Sheepshead Bay man charged with spree of bodega and gas station robberies

Wanted: Police are looking for information on this man, aged 25-35, who they say robbed three stores in Southern Brooklyn on Sept. 16. The suspect is here seen entering the Shell gas station at the corner of Knapp Street and Avenue Y around 8:30 pm.

They’re literally making a federal case of it.

Federal prosecutors are throwing the book at a Sheepshead Bay man charged with committing a string of armed bodega and gas station robberies late last month.

Benjamin Uzilov was charged on Oct. 10 with armed robberies at nine locations across Southern Brooklyn on Sept. 16, 25, and 26, according to the indictment by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue.

“As alleged in the indictment, Uzilov carried out a crime wave, repeatedly targeting Brooklyn businesses where he robbed hard-working store clerks at gunpoint,” Donoghue said in a statement.

Cops arrested Uzilov shortly after his final alleged robbery on Ocean Avenue on Sept. 26. Police found a black ski mask on the front seat of his car and recovered a gun from the glove compartment as well as cash from the pocket of his hoodie, authorities said.

The suspect allegedly stole hundreds of dollars from two gas stations and a bodega within less than two hours on the night of Sept. 16, sporting the ski mask at the latter holdup.

Ten days later, he allegedly went on a two-day robbing spree, raiding a bodega on 92nd Street and Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge and a grocery store on Neptune Avenue near Cass Place in Sheepshead Bay on Sept. 25, authorities said.

Uzilov then allegedly robbed a deli on Avenue U and McDonald Avenue and three 7-Elevens, one on Kings Highway and Coney Island Avenue in Midwood, one on Nostrand Avenue and Avenue T in Madison, and one more further down on Nostrand and Avenue Y in Sheepshead Bay on Sept. 26, according to the indictment.

If convicted, Uzilov faces at least seven years behind bars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The suspect is being charged by the Feds under the Hobbs Act, which makes it a federal crime to commit robbery that affects interstate or foreign commerce. The fact that the stores that were robbed carried goods from other states allows the statute to apply in this case. It is sometimes invoked with robbery suspects that have exhibited a pattern of crime, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The Hobbs Act was also invoked in the recent case of Joshua Stuart, who allegedly committed a gunpoint robbery in Bay Ridge on Oct. 1, after allegedly shooting at several police officers in upstate New York on Sept. 28.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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