Indictment in chemical spray robbery spree - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Indictment in chemical spray robbery spree

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Federal authorities say a Madison man has been indicted in connection with five armed robberies, including heists where victims were sprayed with a chemical as thieves made their get away.

Authorities say 34-year old James Sexton is charged in the federal indictment with robberies from April 29 through May 15, including at three fast food restaurants, a convenience store and a bar.

Surveillance videotape obtained by 27 News in connection to the May 7 armed robbery at Players Sports Bar and Grill shows suspects spraying bar customers, even as they lay on the ground.

Authorities say Sexton's accomplice was responsible for the spraying.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says the accomplice is "out of commission," and no longer a threat, but cited a continuing investigation in declining to comment on whether the accomplice, like Sexton, is in custody.

Koval says federal prosecutors were chosen over referring the case to Dane County district Ismael Ozanne because of the greater consequences associated with certain federal crimes, and says he has "confidence" in Ozanne and his office staff.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin John Vaudreuil says Sexton could face a minimum of over 100 years in prison if convicted federally of using a gun in the robberies, if convicted of them all.

Vaudreuil says the elements of this case lined up as appropriate for a federal prosecution: "Violence, use of guns, a series of robberies."

Koval says a gun used in the crimes has been recovered.

Koval also says a break in the case was provided by observations of a vehicle at the scene of one of the robberies.

Koval says this case exemplifies his department's commitment to aggressively investigate community threats.

"At times, I've been told, 'Koval, you use a guardian approach, not a warrior.' Does this sound like we're soft on crime?" Koval says.

Players owner Mark Kroon says he's relieved there's an indictment. Kroon says he believes the thieves who robbed his bar and frightened his customers chose their methods, including releasing chemical spray, "to intimidate and send a message."

At another business targeted in this crime spree, Burrito Drive, general manager Zakk King says the restaurant's security system was upgraded as a result of the robbery.

Koval called Sexton "a career criminal," and online court records show Sexton was sentenced to prison for three years on a sexual assault conviction in March 2011.




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