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Press Release

Decatur Man Enters Guilty Pleas to Hobbs Act Robbery, Gun Crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

Urbana, Ill. – A Decatur, Ill., man, Kelton Snyder, 23, appeared today in federal court in Urbana and entered open pleas of guilty to three of the four charges against him. Snyder admitted that he committed the April 3, 2015, armed robbery of the Circle K convenience store at 1685 South Baltimore in Decatur, that he brandished a firearm during the armed robbery, and that at the time he possessed the firearm, he was a convicted felon.

Snyder remains scheduled for trial beginning on April 5, 2016, on the charge that he conspired to commit the April 5, 2015, murder of Paige Mars, also of Decatur.       

During court this afternoon, before U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce, Snyder admitted to facts presented by the government that would have been presented to a jury had the defendant gone to trial on the charges:

Shortly before 2:30 a.m., on April 3, 2015, a cashier was outside the Circle K smoking a cigarette when two masked men approached him from behind. One of the men, identified as Snyder, put a shotgun to the cashier’s back and told him to “keep calm, go inside.” Inside the store, the cashier was ordered to the ground while the men took money from the cash register and liquor. A male customer who entered the store was also ordered to the ground and the robbers tied up the two men. After the robbers left, the cashier and customer untangled their hands and called police.

Law enforcement officers reviewed the surveillance camera recording of the robbery where Snyder is clearly seen holding a shotgun. Law enforcement also acquired text messages from Snyder’s phone to others which included messages from Snyder that he had committed the armed robbery. Officers also identified the driver of the car for the robbery as Paige Mars. On April 6, 2015, officers executed a search warrant at Snyder’s grandmother’s home, where Snyder had been living in a basement bedroom, in the 300 block of S. 19th Street, Decatur.  Officers recovered 20-gauge and 12-gauge shotgun shells from Snyder’s bedroom.  On May 15, 2015, officers located a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, which, based on the modifications to the shotgun, appears to be the same one used during the robbery.

The case is being prosecuted in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Bohm and Katherine Boyle.  The Decatur Police Department and FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.

The statutory penalty for committing a Hobbs Act Robbery, the commission of a robbery in interference with commerce, is up to 20 years in prison; for brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime, the penalty is a mandatory minimum seven years in prison and up to life, to be served consecutive to any term of imprisonment ordered for the underlying crime of violence; and for being a felon in possession of a firearm, the penalty is up to 10 years in prison.

Snyder remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.  If convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, the statutory penalty is life in prison.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Updated March 8, 2016

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