- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - The cases of two of the five men arrested in an armed robbery of a Fargo restaurant that left one employee injured from a gunshot wound are moving to the federal system, where the potential penalties are more severe than state court.

The September robbery of a Taco John’s restaurant is one of the latest in a rash of armed holdups in the Fargo area and the second one to move to federal court. The Hobbs Act allows for federal prosecution if the crime involves interstate commerce. The Fargo Taco John’s gets food from Minnesota and uses payroll services from South Dakota.

Court documents filed Wednesday show that Calvin Brown and Rico Brown are each charged with three counts, including discharging a firearm in a violent crime. That charge carries a mandatory 10-year prison term that would be tacked on to any sentence for the other counts. Rico Brown faces an additional charge for possession of a stolen firearm.

U.S. Attorney Christopher Myers declined to comment, as did defense attorneys Charles Sheeley, for Calvin Brown, and Gene Doeling, for Rico Brown. Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick did not respond to an email request for comment.

Three other men accused in the robbery are charged in East Central District Court. Tommie Trent, Kadeem Muhammad and Carl Smith are each facing one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Investigators say Rico Brown was the lookout and Calvin Brown drove the getaway car. Smith and Muhammad allegedly entered the restaurant and when employees did not immediately hand over money, Smith shot one of them in the leg.

The other armed robbery in Fargo that was moved to federal court involved a man who held up a motel in June and fired a shot into the front desk. Eric Webb, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was apprehended a few blocks from the motel after he was shot by a Fargo police officer.



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