Three men arrested for armed robbery of a Makaha store now face stiffer penalties if found guilty.
That’s because federal prosecutors have taken over the case.
Surveillance footage shows the three men entering Makaha Ohana Market on Saturday, July 1, at approximately 1:23 p.m.
Court documents say two of them pulled out a handgun, although one of the suspects later told investigators that one was a BB gun.
Police investigation and public tips via CrimeStoppers led to the arrests of three 21-year-old men.
We’ve learned that federal prosecutors can take over an armed robbery case because stores carry goods from out of state.
“They normally don’t exercise that discretion unless there’s serious violence or there’s a weapon involved,” explained federal public defender Alexander Silvert. “I think in this particular case, it was the brazen use of the weapons and the dangerousness that probably got the FBI involved.”
The alleged federal offenses break down as follows:
- William Bautista: Interference with Commerce by Robbery (Hobbs Act Robbery), Using or Carrying a Firearm, and Aiding and Abetting the Use and Carry of a Firearm, During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence
- Jason Hoopai-Fau and Peter Lee Peneku: Interference with Commerce by Robbery (Hobbs Act Robbery)
Because the robbery is now a federal case, Silvert says the three suspects face a longer prison sentence if they’re found guilty.
He adds that federal prosecutors get involved in store robberies three to four times a year.