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Federal charges often lead to tougher sentences for robbery suspects

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Growing numbers of Wisconsin armed robbery suspects are being tried in federal courts instead of state courts – and they’re getting tougher sentences. Ten people in the eastern half of Wisconsin received federal indictments this year for holding up places like taverns and convenience stores. That’s the same number that was prosecuted over the last three years in federal courts in Milwaukee and Green Bay.

At one time, the F-B-I only investigated hold-ups that involve banks. Now, the weight of the federal government is being pushed on robbers of all types. U-S attorneys generally take cases with multiple hold-ups in more than one city-or-county, mostly in which guns are involved. Those who brandish guns in robberies get minimum prison terms of seven years – and if a gun is fired, a robber faces at least 10 years. Robert Botsch, who heads the violent crime unit of the Milwaukee F-B-I office, says there’s no “wiggle room” for defendants. He says those who commit multiple robberies get “significant” prison time.

The cases are prosecuted under the Hobbs Act, which first focused on organized crime and union racketeering. The federal government has the authority to handle robberies at stores with merchandise which was delivered across state lines.