Rob A Dollar General; Get Sent To Federal Prison

There are a lot of state-level crimes for which you can also be prosecuted for at the Federal level. Under the “things I learned en route to looking up other things” category comes this 7/31/15 release from the BATFE which caught my eye for semi-obvious reasons.

Buncombe Co. Man Sentenced to More Than 10 Years in Prison on Armed Robbery and Gun Charges

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Anthony Lamont Hill, 31, of Fletcher, N.C., was sentenced today to 121 months in prison for his role in the 2013 armed robbery of a Dollar General store in Woodfin, N.C., announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Senior U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen also sentenced Hill to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $4,750 as restitution.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by Dewey “Craig” Chillcott, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division, and Chief Brett Holloman of the Woodfin Police Department.

According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, in August 2013, Hill robbed at gunpoint a Dollar General store located in Woodfin. Court records show that Hill and his accomplice entered the store right before closing time. According to court records, Hill and his conspirator ordered two store employees to remove most of their clothing and proceeded to tie them up. Hill and his accomplice attempted to destroy the store’s security system, before fleeing with approximately $2,500 in cash they had taken from the store’s register, court records show. Hill pleaded guilty in December 2014 to one count of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of possessing and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Hill remains in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The investigation was handled by ATF and the Woodfin Police Department. The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Pritchard of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.

I had never heard of a “Hobbs Act robbery” before so I had to look it up. The Hobbs Act was enacted in 1946 to combat racketeering. Primarily aimed at labor-management disputes, it made the interference with commerce by “robbery or extortion” a Federal crime. In other words, the Hobbs Act was aimed at the Mafia infiltration of labor unions post-WWII. It is 18 US Code § 1951.

Under North Carolina law (NCGS § 14-87), armed robbery is a Class D felony which under the current sentencing guidelines could be punished with up to 160 months imprisonment. However, the presumptive range which depends upon prior offenses and any aggravating factors would have been somewhere between 51 and 128 months of incarceration.

Now I understand why the Woodfin Police Department referred this to Federal authorities for prosecution. They wanted Anthony Lamont Hill to serve some hard time without the possibility of parole for coming into their little town of 6,000 and robbing their Dollar General store. BATFE and the US Attorneys’ Office probably saw this as a way to burnish their conviction statistics.

I understand why Hill was prosecuted under Federal law but there remains the question of whether some local thug should have been prosecuted using a law obviously aimed at the Mafia. Given the torturous connection to interstate commerce (gun was made out of state as were most of the goods sold), philosophically I’m inclined to say armed robbery, other than of a FDIC-insured bank or post office, ought to be prosecuted under state law and by the local district attorney. That it can be prosecuted by the US Attorney goes to show just how broad the purview of the Federal government has become over the years. Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll ever see a reversal of this trend.

Now They Want You To Be The Victim, Too

ABC News is not just satisfied with sensationalism and bad reporting a’la Brian Ross. After watching the video below with the ABC news show 20/20’s Deborah Roberts, I’ve come to the conclusion that they want you to roll over and become the victim as well.

In the episode aired last night – the evening after the shooting in Aurora, Colorado – 20/20 reported on clerks and store owners who stood up to armed robbers and fought back. Chris Cuomo introduced it as “Vigilante Video”. I think that set the tone for the episode.

In the episode, Deborah Roberts interviewed a jewelry store owner who fought back as well as a convenience store customer who attacked the gun wielding robber with bottles of beer. Neither the owner nor the customer, who by the way was shot four times, regretted their actions. While I don’t necessarily think it was the wisest thing for the customer to have gotten involved, I don’t condemn him either.

To provide a tut-tutting counter-point to people refusing to be a victim, Deborah Roberts brought in a “security expert”. Rosemary Erickson, Ph.D., is a forensic sociologist and the president of Athena Research Corporation. From her vita, it appears she specializes in working as a consultant with convenience stores, restaurants, hotels, and similar such businesses. She serves as an expert witness in civil premises liability cases and testifies on business security.

When asked if it was “heroic” to challenge a robber, Erickson responded, “I think it’s suicide.” She continued, “Because the odds are you’re the one who is going to be injured or killed.” She goes on to say that, in general, robbers just want to get the money and get out. Roberts then asks Erickson about the odds of being killed or injured if one resists based upon research. To which, Erickson responded, “They found that 82% of the deaths are when people resisted.” From that statement, you are being led to believe that being passive and not resisting is the smart thing to do in virtually all cases. In other words, you are a victim once, don’t make it worse by becoming a double-victim by resisting the robber and becoming injured as a result.

Erickson is being disingenuous because her own research seems to contradict this. There was a study from Chicago done in 1986 by Franklin Zimring and James Zuehl that provided the 82% statistic. However, in a study that Erickson did for the National Association of Convenience Stores which analyzed 79 robbery-homicides in convenience stores in 1989 and 1990, she found:

The majority of the cases appeared to be gratuitous and senseless in nature with no signs of resistance….There was evidence of resistance in only 16% of these cases.

In her later research on Teenage Robbers, she found them to be more violent than adult robbers and were twice as likely to hurt or kill their victims. In cases where people were hurt or killed, her survey of teenage inmates found:

The juvenile robbers were asked whether in those robberies in which someone was hurt or killed they had planned to use the weapon in advance. Over half said they did plan to use it before they went in to do the robbery

I’m not sure who at ABC News decided that this episode was the right one to air on the evening after the Aurora shooting but I really do question their motives. To encourage non-resistance in the face of armed criminals ignores just how many compliant persons have been murdered because they were a witness or because it gave the perpetrator a thrill. The media should not be encouraging people to be like sheep before the slaughter.

To say I was disgusted is enough. I don’t want to even get started on so-called gun free zones which, as Massad Ayoob once noted, are nothing but hunting preserves for psychopaths.

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You Don’t Interrupt A Guy Eating His Smothered And Covered Hashbrowns

Waffle House is a chain of diners across the South and into middle America. They are famous for their hashbrowns especially when they are smothered and covered. That is hashbrowns with sauteed onions and melted cheese.

In Chesnee, South Carolina, two armed robbers made the mistake of robbing the wrong Waffle House this morning. As a result of their decision, one of them is dead and the other is on the run.

It was only after the armed robbers started to make moves to herd the customers and staff to the backroom that a person who was legally carrying concealed made his move. As Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright noted, the man feared for his life and only then pulled out his firearm.

Sheriff Chuck Wright said the CWP training the man had came into play in this situation.

“All the witnesses said it wasn’t his first reaction to grab the gun and start shooting and he tried to make him stop,” said Wright.

Wright said you are told to do all you can to avoid shooting something.

“You are trained when to shoot and when not to shoot and what you can and cant do. You learn where you can and can’t carry a gun and this gentleman followed the law,” said Wright.

The CWP holder will not be charged and his name is not being released. The Sheriff’s Office says no customers or employees were injured during the incident.

Sheriff Chuck Wright is the same lawman who urged women in South Carolina to get their SC concealed weapons permit in 2011. He did this in response to an attempted rape in his county by a man who had been in and out of jail 20 times.

UPDATE: Paul Valone, President of Grass Roots North Carolina, is using this example combined with two fatal shootings of restaurant employees during robberies in Charlotte, NC to push the North Carolina State Senate to move on HB 111. That bill would allow concealed carry (but not drinking) in restaurants and eating establishments that serve alcohol. An alert similar to his Charlotte Gun Rights Examiner column went out yesterday.