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Press Release

Champlin Man Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For String Of Twin Cities Robberies

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

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the sentencing of MARTAVIS SHAWN DEMAR JAMES, 38, to 180 months in prison for the robbery and attempted robbery of 10 Twin Cities businesses. JAMES, who was convicted on May 17, 2019, was sentenced on December 17, 2019, by U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson.

United States Attorney Erica MacDonald said, “The defendant committed a series of robberies at businesses across the Twin Cities, terrifying its employees and customers. The outstanding collaboration between multiple law enforcement agencies to bring Mr. James to justice is another example of the work under our Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative.”   

As proven at trial, between March and June of 2018, JAMES robbed or attempted to rob at least 10 businesses located across the Twin Cities metro area, including locations in Anoka, Hennepin, and Ramsey Counties. The robberies mostly involved CVS Pharmacy stores across the Twin Cities metropolitan area, as well as a Dollar Tree Store in Coon Rapids and a Blaine BigLots store. In each successful robbery instance, JAMES wore a black hooded coat, a black mask and black gloves. He would point a perceived firearm at the store employee(s), demand access to the business safe, order the employee(s) to put the cash into a duffel bag, and order them to the ground before fleeing.

Law enforcement identified JAMES and began conducting surveillance on him. On June 1, 2018, law enforcement agents followed JAMES as he drove to a CVS store in Eden Prairie. Law enforcement agents and officers, as well as CVS security personnel, were able to lock the front doors of the CVS store prior to JAMES’ arrival, preventing him from gaining entry when he approached. When JAMES returned to his vehicle he was apprehended by law enforcement.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minneapolis Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from multiple local agencies and departments that initially investigated the robberies that occurred in their jurisdictions.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), an initiative that brings together federal, state, and local law enforcement to combat violent crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen A. Slaughter prosecuted the case.

Defendant Information:


Champlin, Minn.


  • Hobbs Act Robbery, 8 counts
  • Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery, 2 counts


  • 180 months in prison
  • 3 years supervised release


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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600


Updated December 18, 2019

Project Safe Neighborhoods