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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 12, 2014

St. Louis Man Sentenced For Robbery Of Chili's Bar And Grill

Christopher Ford, 29, of St. Louis, Missouri, was sentenced to a 57 month term in federal prison, to be followed by a three year term of supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,883.30 in restitution at his sentencing, today, Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois announced. Ford had been charged with Interference with Commerce by Violence, a violation of the Hobbs Act, in connection with the robbery of Chili’s Bar and Grill in Fairview Heights on August 1, 2013. Ford, who has been in custody since his arrest on August 1, 2013, will remain in custody until he serves his prison sentence.

“While I am pleased to note that armed robberies of businesses have declined, I am still concerned that, as shown by the recent Circle K robbery near Belleville, the bad guys are not getting the message. Again, I want these persons to know that they will be caught and they will do federal time far from their homes and families.” said United States Attorney Wigginton. “My federal initiative will not cease until this kind of crime is eliminated. All of our citizens should feel safe in going to restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations. To ensure this, I will continue to use the Hobbs Act and every tool that I have to investigate and prosecute those who rob businesses engaging in interstate commerce.”

At the time of Ford’s guilty plea, court records showed that on August 1, 2013, at approximately 9:24 p.m., Ford and his co-defendants entered Chili’s Restaurant (in Fairview Heights) to commit a robbery. Ford and one of his co-defendants were masked and armed with BB guns which resembled genuine semi-automatic firearms. The third co-defendant was unarmed and unmasked. In total, over twenty customers and employees were present in the restaurant when the defendants entered a side door to commit the robbery. The manager was ordered at gunpoint by Ford to open the safe, which contained a cash drawer and box. The two co-defendants maintained watch over customers and employees (some of whom were ordered to the back of the restaurant and the ground) while monies were being taken. Some customers fled the restaurant during the robbery. An alert customer was able to record the Missouri license plate number of the getaway car, and to provide it to police during a 911 call.

Police officers quickly located the getaway car, and, after a chase, were able to catch it when it drove into the City of St. Louis and ran into a dead end street. The defendants attempted to flee the police on foot, but were quickly apprehended.

The case was investigated by the Fairview Heights Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne M. Garrison for prosecution.

Updated February 19, 2015