Two convicted bank robbers who were prison mates in Kansas now face federal charges in connection with an early morning robbery at a Twin Cities Menards store.
Cornelius Graham waited overnight in the West St. Paul Menards, surprising the general manager tasked with opening the store at 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 28, then fleeing the scene with cash, according to federal charges filed last month.
The complaint says he was helped by Abdullah Muhammad Alim, with the charges alleging his vehicle was used to drive Graham to and from the Menards.
West St. Paul police quickly asked for the public's help identifying the suspect, whom they said was armed with a handgun and stole a "small amount of cash."
Here's what the federal allegations against Graham and Alim say:
Graham was dropped off at the West St. Paul Menards the evening of Sept. 27 by a driver in a blue Hyundai, which investigators found was registered to Alim. Graham waited in the store overnight and at 4:30 a.m., when the general manager arrived for the opening shift, robbed the Menards.
Camera footage shows Graham brandishing a black revolver. He zip-tied the employee in the office then fled, with the entire encounter taking only 15 minutes.
Investigators reviewed video footage and tracked down Alim as the registered owner of the blue Hyundai. Alim lived in an apartment building about a mile from the store, and security footage from the parking ramp shows the blue Hyundai leaving the evening before the robbery, then returning early the next morning with someone matching the robbery suspect's description inside.
Cellphone records showed calls from Graham's phone number to Alim's phone number at 2:47 a.m. Sept. 28, when Graham would have been in the Menards, and again a 5:12 a.m., shortly after the robbery ended.
From Oct. 28-29, Investigators and probation officer compared images of the Menards suspect with photos of Graham, said they appeared to match.
Officers spoke with Alim at his apartment on Oct. 27. He allowed law enforcement into his home, and when asked about the Menards robbery he denied any involvement.
The FBI agent on site said they were going to execute a federal search warrant. Alim assented, saying there was some marijuana in the apartment but nothing else.
Officers then found a loaded .357 caliber short barrel black revolver in Aliim's dresser drawer, and a bag of ammunition in his dishwasher. The revolver was manufactured outside of Minnesota, so had to have crossed state lines, and Alim is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to his bank robbery convictions.
Graham was indicted on Nov. 23 on counts of interference with commerce by robbery, and felon in possession of a firearm. The complaint was filed against him in federal court on Nov. 3, but was initially sealed.
Alim, meanwhile, was indicted on one count of felon in possession of a firearm on Nov. 16, almost three weeks after the complaint was filed.
Prosecutors say Graham and Alim were both housed at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, overlapping from Feb. 28, 2003 to Jan. 28, 2005. During that stretch, there were in the same housing unit for 13 months.
Graham was released from federal prison in August of 2020 after serving 308 months on a bank robbery conviction, having pleaded guilty in 2000. At the time of the Menards incident, he was on supervised release.
Alim, meanwhile, was convicted of bank robbery in Minnesota in 2002, under the name Roderick Dunmore. The charges say he told tellers he had a gun and kept his hand in his pocket, as if he were holding a weapon. He'd been sentenced to 84 months.
Prosecutors filed a notice on Nov. 24, saying the Graham and Alim cases were related. Last week, Alim filed a change of plea notice, though it's currently not publicly available.
Prosecutors have asked that Graham remain in custody until his trial, saying they are worried he might flee and that he is a danger to the public.