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Press Release

East St. Louis Convenience Store Armed Robbery Suspect Indicted

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois
Lauren Barry, Public Affairs Officer

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – A man is facing federal charges in southern Illinois for allegedly using a firearm to rob an East St. Louis convenience store.

Vernelle E. Hines, 30, arrested in Houston, Texas, is facing one count of interference with commerce by robbery and one count of carry and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.

“Store employees should be able to show up for work and not fear for their lives due to weapons and violence,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “Our partners in the Illinois State Police Public Safety Enforcement Group work tirelessly to bring justice to victims of crime and to protect businesses in the community.”

Court documents allege Hines brandished and discharged a firearm and took items and U.S. currency by force from the Mega Supermarket in East St. Louis on Oct. 31, 2023.

“This indictment does not happen without ISP’s commitment to bringing violent criminals to justice,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “ISP Public Safety Enforcement Group special agents are dedicated to conducting extensive investigations in order to track down violent criminals and make communities safer."

An indictment is merely a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

If convicted, Hines could face up to 20 years’ imprisonment for the robbery charge and a minimum of 10 years up to life imprisonment for the use of a firearm.

ISP’s Public Safety Enforcement Group led the investigation with assistance in apprehending the suspect from the U.S. Marshals Service in the Southern District of Illinois and Homeland Security Investigations in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ali Burns is prosecuting the case.

Updated January 31, 2024

Violent Crime