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In 'perplexing' case, man with no criminal history pleads guilty to 5 armed robberies

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A Minneapolis man will get 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a string of armed robberies around the Twin Cities area over a nine-month period.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office said Robert Abraham Lee pleaded guilty Monday to five counts of aggravated robbery in connection with five incidents, taking place from December of 2013 through September of this year.

He would either use a gun, or something resembling a gun, to threaten a store employee into giving him cash or prescription medications, according to the attorney's office.

He was caught after robbing a Walgreens on Sept. 8, when employees called police and followed him to a nearby light rail station where he got on a bus. Police stopped the vehicle and arrested him, the criminal complaint says.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman called it a "perplexing" case, since Lee had no criminal history yet "suddenly started terrorizing clerks with a gun as he robbed numerous pharmacies and gas stations."

The five incidents in which he pleaded guilty to, according to the attorney's office:

  • Dec. 29, 2013: Entered a Winners gas station on the 3300 blocks of Cedar Avenue, pulled out a gun and demanded money.
  • June 3, 2014: Entered a SuperAmerica at 6000 Portland Ave. S. and used what appeared to be a shotgun to demand money. In court, he said it was actually a long-barrel BB gun.
  • June 9, 2014: Went into a SuperAmerica at 2501 Hennepin Ave. S., showed that same BB gun and fled with the cash.
  • Sept. 5, 2014: Entered a CVS pharmacy at 5801 Brooklyn Blvd. in Brooklyn Center and showed the clerk the butt of what looked like a gun – it was actually a stun gun, Lee later said. He demanded and received Xanax before leaving.
  • Sept. 8, 2014: Went into a Walgreens at 4547 Hiawatha Ave. with the same stun gun and once again demanded Xanax. It was in a locked area so he couldn't get it, so instead took cash and left.

Sentencing is slated for Jan. 23. As part of his plea, he will be sentenced to 48 months in prison for all five counts, totaling 20 years.

Lee is suspected in at least five additional similar incidents; most were in Hennepin County, but there is a warrant out for his arrest in Ramsey County. It's not know what will happen in that case.

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