Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Philly Armed Robber Sentenced to 15 Years Under Hobbs Act

Marvin Gibson was sentenced Oct. 1 for three armed robberies in Philadelphia. No one was hurt in the stickups, but prosecutors charged Gibson with federal crimes under a law known as the Hobbs Act, reports

This is a unique case meant to send a loud message to criminals: If you plan to commit armed robbery, beware the Hobbs Act.

Gibson and his codefendant, Jackson Doggette, pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and firearm possession. The pair held up three stores: a Metro PCS store on Germantown Avenue, a Metro PCS store on Broad Street and a Rite Aid store on Broad Street.

Now, Gibson faces 15 years in prison -- and all for a mere $3,100, which he likely had to split with his codefendant. (Doggette's sentencing is set for next week.)

While armed robbery is typically prosecuted as a state crime, the feds are now cracking down on armed robbers under the Hobbs Act. The Hobbs Act imposes stricter penalties on robbers, and its broad application makes it easy for the FBI to invoke.

Originally sought as a law to crack down on organized crime and racketeering (think La Cosa Nostra), the Hobbs Act impacts robberies committed against national franchises, under Congress' authority to make laws affecting interstate commerce.

Because Metro PCS and Rite Aid are national franchises, Gibson's robberies were prosecuted as federal crimes instead of state crimes.

A key difference between a state crime and a federal crime is that federal courts need jurisdiction to prosecute the case. The jurisdiction has to come under a law. While a local armed robbery might not look like a crime ripe for federal prosecution, the Hobbs Act changes that and makes armed robbery a federal crime in certain cases.

So basically, if you stick up a joint with franchises nationwide, as Marvin Gibson and his codefendant did, then beware the wrath of the FBI.

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