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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
For Immediate Release
Nikolas Kerest, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-vt
Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Burlington Man Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Robbery Charge

Burlington, Vermont – The United States Attorney’s Office stated that Eric Edson, 52, of Burlington, Vermont appeared in United States District Court yesterday for an arraignment and pleaded not guilty to violating the Hobbs Act by obstructing commerce by robbery. A federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment against Edson on September 28, 2023. Edson was in state custody following his September 7, 2023 arrest and appeared in federal court yesterday pursuant to a writ filed by the United States. United States Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle ordered Edson detained pending trial, which has not yet been scheduled.

According to court records, on August 24, 2023, officers from the Burlington Police Department (BPD) responded to a report of a robbery at the Sierra Trading Post located at 555 Shelburne Road in Burlington, Vermont. Officers learned that a man, later identified as Edson, attempted to leave the store with unpaid merchandise. When a Sierra Trading Post employee asked Edson to return the merchandise to the store, Edson told the employee “I’ll blow your head off” and partially pulled an item that appeared to be a firearm from his hooded sweatshirt pocket. Edson then ran to a vehicle and drove away. Edson remained on the run until he was ultimately apprehended by law enforcement on September 7, 2023.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office notes that the indictment is an accusation only and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. If convicted, Edson faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Any sentence in the case will be advised by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest credited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Burlington Police Department for their work in the investigation, and thanked the Vermont State Police, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Warden Service, the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department, the United States Coast Guard, the Colchester Police Department, the UVM Police Department, the Milton Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department for their efforts to safely apprehend Edson.

Assistant United States Attorney Nicole Cate represents the government. Edson is represented by Laura Wilson, Esq. and Federal Public Defender Michael Desautels.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psn.

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