Man robbed Lakeview smoke shop while on federal parole for robbing 6 stores in NYC: prosecutors

Idris Browning is charged with robbing Urban Puff & Stuff in Lakeview (Google, Chicago Police Department)

CHICAGO — A man on federal parole for robbing six businesses across New York City robbed a Lakeview smoke shop and threatened to kill the store’s cashier, prosecutors say. Judge Charles Beach detained Idris Browning, 24, on charges of armed robbery with a firearm and kidnapping with a firearm.

Surveillance video showed Browning pointing an object that appeared to be a gun through his pocket as he demanded proceeds from the 22-year-old clerk at Urban Puff & Stuff, 3110 North Broadway, on April 29, officials said.

The victim tried to run away, but Browning chased him and continually threatened to kill him while pointing the gun at him, prosecutors said. He eventually took cash, cigarettes, flowers, mushrooms, a grinder, and a fanny pack from the store, according to a criminal complaint. Prosecutors said Browning still had some of the property when Chicago police arrested him.

In 2021, Browning pleaded guilty to six counts of Hobbs Act robbery in New York City. A federal judge sentenced him to six concurrent 50-month sentences, and he remains on supervised release, according to Cook County prosecutors and federal court records.

The federal charges stemmed from allegations that Browning robbed “multiple” businesses in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn within about two weeks during November and December 2019.

Each time, Browning allegedly brandished “what appeared to be a firearm” while taking cash, merchandise, and store employees’ property, a federal sentencing memo said. A federal task force identified Browning by running a surveillance image of the robber through an NYPD facial recognition program, according to a federal court filing.

Federal prosecutors said Browning had one of the store clerk’s phones when police arrested him in New York. They said he also had a silver and black lighter shaped like a gun.

His attorneys asked the federal judge for leniency, claiming that Browning’s time in the federal detention center in Manhattan had already set him on the right path. Prosecutors rejected this argument, pointing out that Browning faced discipline in the federal jail for attempting to bribe a guard.

They said he passed a note to the corrections worker saying, “We can get rich” by selling contraband inside the jail.

“Cig’s go for $500 a pack in here an 8th go for $1000-$1100 a pack in here,” he allegedly wrote. “All I need is your Cashapp and we can get rich.”

“If you say no,” Browning continued, “still send me your Cashapp and I’ll send you money to forget this conversation.”

Federal prosecutors claim Browning passed this letter to a corrections worker at the federal detention center in Manhattan. (U.S. District Court records)
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