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Press Release

Milwaukee Man Sentenced to 36 Years in Federal Prison for Armed Robberies

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Wisconsin

United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad announced that on January 12, 2018, Judge Pamela Pepper, sentenced Joel Rivera (age: 29) to 36 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for his role in armed robberies of local Family Dollar stores. 

Rivera was convicted in federal court in September by a jury that found him guilty of two business robberies, known as “Hobbs Act Robberies,” violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951, and two counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of the robberies, violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). Each robbery offense carried a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years. Together, the two firearm counts required an additional mandatory sentence of 32 years.  

The offenses were part of a crime spree that consisted of five Milwaukee area business robberies, which began on January 4, 2017 and continued until January 17, 2017. The criminal activity targeted several restaurants in addition to the Family Dollar stores.   During the robberies, Rivera’s accomplice wielded a loaded, semi-automatic handgun provided by Rivera, and the two men subsequently split the robbery proceeds, which they used primarily to purchase drugs.

During the sentencing hearing, Pepper, noted that Rivera, who has a prior armed robbery conviction dating back to 2007 and who had been charged but never convicted of two additional bar robberies, had achieved a new level of criminal sophistication in the instant case.  She discussed at length, Rivera’s role in these armed robberies where he, as the leader and organizer of the criminal activity, minimized the risk to himself while making his accomplice the front man for the crimes.

In sentencing Rivera, Pepper considered all of the federal sentencing factors and concluded that the lengthy prison sentence was warranted in order to protect the public from further criminal conduct on his part.

This case was investigated by the Milwaukee Area Violent Crimes Task Force, a collaboration of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Milwaukee Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carol L. Kraft and Benjamin A. Wesson.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. 


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For additional information contact:

Acting Public Information Officer Elizabeth Makowski at 414 297-1700

Updated January 18, 2018