Guilty plea in string of armed robberies

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Minneapolis man pleaded guilty to five aggravated robberies, about half of the total he is suspected of committing, and is expected to receive 20 years in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Robert Abraham Lee will be sentenced Jan. 23, one day after his 24th birthday. As part of the guilty plea agreement, he will be sentenced to 48 months on each of the five counts and the sentences will be consecutive for a total of 240 months, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Charles Gerlach said in the court hearing Monday morning.

“This is a good outcome in a perplexing case,” Freeman said. “Mr. Lee had no criminal history and then suddenly started terrorizing clerks with a gun as he robbed numerous pharmacies and gas stations. We worked hard to come up with an agreement that would make sure he will be off the streets for a very long time.”

At his plea hearing, Lee admitted that on Dec. 29, 2013, he entered a Winners gas station at 3333 Cedar Ave. S., pulled out a Glock .22 caliber pistol and demanded money.

On June 3, 2014, he walked into a SuperAmerica gas station at 6000 Portland Ave. S. and threatened a clerk with what looked like a shotgun. Lee said in court it was actually a long-barrel BB gun that “appeared to be a shotgun.” Again, he demanded money and fled after receiving the cash. Six days later, he entered a SuperAmerica at 2501 Hennepin Ave. S., and showed the same BB gun and fled with the cash.

On Sept. 5, Lee went to a CVS pharmacy at 5801 Brooklyn Blvd. in Brooklyn Center and showed the clerk filling prescriptions the butt of what looked like a handgun, but was actually a Taser, Lee said. He demanded, and received, the drug Xanax. His robberies came to an end on Sept. 8 when he went to a Walgreens drugstore at 4547 Hiawatha Ave. with the same Taser. Again, he demanded Xanax, but this time he did not get it because it was in a locked area. Instead, he took cash from the pharmacy and then demanded and received cash from a cashier near the store’s exit, according to the criminal complaint. Store employees called police and followed Lee to the nearby light-rail station, where he got on a bus. Police stopped the bus a short distance later and arrested him.

Lee was the suspect in about 10 robberies in the Twin Cities area. Most of them were in Hennepin County, but there also is a Ramsey County warrant out for him for a robbery there and Lee acknowledged in court that there is no agreement for what might happen to him in any other county.

Read one of the complaints (PDF).