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posted: 11/1/2013 12:26 PM

Repeat offender gets 19 years for $40,000 cigarette robbery in Elmhurst

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  • Charles Watkins

    Charles Watkins

  • Claiborne Robertson

    Claiborne Robertson


A Chicago man is going back to prison for the seventh time after pleading guilty to robbing an Elmhurst store of about $40,000 in cigarettes.

Prosecutors said Charles Watkins was one of two men who dressed like government inspectors for the May 2012 holdup at Little Shopper Cigarette Store, 697 N. York Road.

In DuPage County court Friday, Watkins pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to 19 years. He previously served in prison six times, most recently being paroled from a 14-year term for aggravated robbery.

"He's a seven-time loser," Assistant State's Attorney Steve Knight said.

Authorities said Watkins and co-defendant Clairborne Robertson wore uniforms with holsters and identified themselves as inspectors when they robbed the Elmhurst store.

After being let into a storage room, they handcuffed an employee and fled with 780 cartons of cigarettes valued at nearly $40,000, police said.

Responding officers located the getaway car as it left the area and arrested the suspects after a brief chase. Inside the vehicle, police found an air pistol they believe was used to threaten the robbery victim.

"What a rotten thing to do -- threatening people's lives to steal from them," Judge John Kinsella told Watkins in court. "I hope this is the last time you go to the penitentiary."

Because of his criminal history, Watkins faced an extended term of six to 60 years if convicted at trial.

By law, he must serve at least 9 years before he's eligible for parole, with credit for about 18 months already served in the county jail.

Robertson, 44, also of Chicago, remains in custody and has pleaded not guilty to robbery and unlawful restraint charges. His next court date is Nov. 18.

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