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'Inside man' among 4 indicted in $104,000 State Fair beer booth robbery

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Four men were indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a $104,000 armed robbery from a craft beer exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair – including an employee who authorities say helped plot the inside job.

The four suspects – Jarret Maiden, 35; Eligah Branson, 20; Jordan Strickland, 23; and Antonio Washington, 20 – were indicted on charges of disrupting interstate commerce.

Strickland and Washington are also charged with using a gun in a crime of violence, the indictment documents say. All four men are from St. Paul.

According to the Pioneer Press, prosecutors say Maiden, who worked at the Minnesota Crafts Brewers' Guild exhibit at the State Fair this past summer, targeted the exhibit because he saw an opportunity to make money. Prosecutors also believe Maiden enlisted Washington to carry out the robbery, and told him how and when to do it.

The robbery occurred at 11 p.m. on August 29, two hours after the craft brewers' Land of 10,000 Beers Exhibit closed in the Agriculture-Horticulture Building.

Court documents state that Washington pointed a gun at the head of an employee counting the day's take from the beer and wine exhibits, an estimated $104,000 in cash, before Strickland helped him bind the worker and another employee to chairs with duct tape. Later on, authorities say all four men met up at Maiden's house to split the money.

The victims were able to free themselves and contact police about 10 minutes later.

The next day, Washington is said to have bought two vehicles for $6,000 from a dealership in St. Paul while with another person. On September 4, he was stopped in one of these cars by police, who found a gun inside the vehicle that matched the description of the one used in the robbery, according to the court documents.

The case is being handled at the federal level because the authorities argue the crime affected interstate commerce, the Star Tribune reports, as many of those who purchased the beer and wine were from out of state, as was the company insuring the exhibit.

City police said it was the first crime of its type at the Minnesota State Fair, though a FOX9 report shows two men stole $24,000 from a safe from the French Meadow Bakery Building at the fair in 2012.

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