1 suspect charged in State Fair craft beer booth armed robbery

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A 20-year-old St. Paul man was charged in federal court Friday with robbing a Minnesota State Fair craft beer booth at gunpoint, and taking off with more than $100,000.

In a Friday press release the U.S. Attorney's Office says Antonio Washington, around 11 p.m. on Aug. 29, entered the Mintahoe Catering and Events office in the Agriculture Horticulture Building and pointed a gun at the head of one of the workers.

Washington and an accomplice then used duct tape to bind the victims to office chairs, then filled their bags with the craft beer booth's earnings for the day, totaling $104,000.

Initial media reports had the amount stolen pegged at about $10,000.

According to the Star Tribune, authorities say Washington used $6,000 to buy two vehicles at a St Paul dealership the day after the robbery.

The Pioneer Press has a few details from the criminal complaint: He was stopped while driving alone in Faribault on Sept. 4, and police say he had with him a firearm matching the description of what was used in the robbery.

Washington was arrested Wednesday and later in the week appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Paul. In addition, authorities arrested a 35-year-old St. Paul man in connection with the robbery, Minnesota State Fair media said Thursday. But no charges against him have yet been announced.

The Star Tribune reports after his arrest, police say Washington admitted to the crime, and said he used some of the money to shop at the Mall of America.

“The Great Minnesota Get-Together is a local institution,” U.S. Attorney Luger said in the statement. “The State Fair should be about family fun with corn-on-the-cob, cows, and carnival rides. As charged, this defendant disrupted our collective nostalgia by bringing violence to this summer ritual.”

Washington is charged with two counts: using a firearm during a violent crime, and Hobbs Act robbery (which the Department of Justice explains is used when a robbery involves the disruption of interstate of foreign commerce).

The investigation is ongoing.

State Fair police Public Information Officer Brooke Blakey told KSTP at the time the victims were able to free themselves within 10 minutes and call for help. According to the officer, eyewitness saw the suspects flee the fairgrounds by foot.

Even though the fairgrounds close at 11, the Agriculture-Horticulture Building closes at 9 p.m. and the building was closed to the public when the robbery occurred.

According to police officials, the armed robbery is the first of its kind at the State Fair. Though FOX 9 reported in 2012 two men were charged with stealing $24,000 from a safe at the fair’s French Meadow building that year.

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