Federal Hobbs Act Being Invoked More In Local Violent Crimes


Prosecutions in a robbery and shooting at a Milwaukee market were handled under the federal Hobbs Act, including a charge of interference with commerce. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the case is the latest in a growing number of federal prosecutions under a law originally designed to target organized crime that now is used to prosecute armed robbers who steal from businesses.

The FBI was involved in the case from the beginning new joint federal-local task force in an area that accounts for nearly a third of all homicides and nonfatal shootings recorded in the city last year. “We’re trying to address the problem here and get rid of the violence,” said FBI agent Robert Botsch. So far, the task force has arrested more than 30 people, confiscated 15 firearms and recovered a military grade ballistic vest. The partnership between federal and local authorities also means some cases can be tried in federal court, where penalties could be more severe.

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