A 42-year-old Chicago man was sentenced Friday to 19 years in prison for stealing more than 700 cartons of cigarettes—worth about $39,000—from an Elmhurst store.
Charles Watkins entered a guilty plea Friday to one count of armed robbery, a Class X felony.
On May 11, 2012, Watkins and an accomplice, Claiborne Robertson, 44, also of Chicago, entered The Little Shopper, 697 N. York, and allegedly told the clerk they were government inspectors there to inspect the cigarettes. They then allegedly led the store clerk to a back room and handcuffed him before fleeing with the merchandise. They were apprehended a short time later after a brief chase that ended in a crash, according to police reports.
Robertson's next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 18 for a status hearing. Elmhurst Patch reported in summer 2012 that Robertson has an extensive criminal history. He is still being held in DuPage County Jail on $1 million bail.
“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that violent crimes such as this will not be tolerated and will carry a significant amount of time behind bars," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a prepared statement. He also thanked the Elmhurst police for their "quick response and apprehension" of the defendants.
Members of the public are reminded that these complaints contain only charges and are not proof of the defendant’s guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.