MINNEAPOLIS — A pair of Wabasha County brothers were sentenced in federal court Tuesday to decades in prison for their involvement in multiple violent home invasions, including one that led to the death of a person.
Lennie Dwayne Brooks, 34, of Zumbro Falls, was sentenced to 365 months in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty in June to three counts of aiding and abetting interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act). He was also ordered to pay $288,483.72 in restitution to victims.
Randy Lorenzo Brooks, 24, of Wabasha, was sentenced to 240 months in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty in June to three counts of aiding and abetting interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act). He was also ordered to pay $288,483.72 in restitution to victims.
Senior Judge David S. Doty handed down the sentences to both men.
“Lennie and Randy Brooks carefully planned and carried out multiple violent home invasion robberies, one resulting in the death of a victim," U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said in a news release. "Although nothing can replace the lost sense of safety and security of one’s home or the loss of a loved one, today’s sentencings offer some measure of justice for the victims.”
In May, co-defendants Autumn Marie Nichols, 21, and Esperanza Cardenas, 30, each pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act).
Nichols was sentenced Tuesday to 120 months in prison and three years of supervised release. She was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution.
Cardenas was sentenced in November to 50 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $238,483.72 in restitution.
On Aug. 16, 2018, the brothers broke into a Waite Park home, held two people at gunpoint and stole approximately $180,000 in jewelry and gemstones that belonged to Trisko Jewelry in Waite Park, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On Sept. 23, 2018, the brothers broke into an Ellendale home, held two people at gunpoint and stole approximately $40,000 in cash, which was the business proceeds of the Holland Auction Co. in Ellendale, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On Oct. 6, 2018, the Brooks brothers broke into an Eden Prairie home, held two people at gunpoint and stole approximately $50,000 in cash, which was the business proceeds of two Shuang Hur Asian Markets located in the Twin Cities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. During that robbery, one of the home’s residents went into cardiac arrest and died.
Both brothers argued for lesser sentences in advance of Tuesday’s hearing. In Lennie Brooks’ position on sentencing, filed with the court in September, his defense attorney argued that while Brooks’ conduct warranted a significant sentence, a sentence of 20 years was sufficient but not greater than necessary.
"It is important to Lennie Brooks that the Court and victims know that he did not intend for anyone to die or get hurt," the document read. "While the robberies did pose a danger to all involved, and absolutely scared the victims in their own homes, Mr. Brooks is haunted by the fact that the activities resulted in a death. He never wanted that, he never imagined it happening."
Prosecutors argued against a lesser sentence, stating that any assertion that Brooks made that he did not intend for anyone to die or get hurt “flies in the face of the undisputed fact that he and co-defendant Randy Brooks broke into people’s homes at night, armed with guns, pointed the guns at the victims, and threatened to kill them if they did not give up their cash and property,” according to court documents.
The first three pages of Randy Brooks’ argument for a lesser sentence features two color images taken from an anime and a detailed description of what the anime character meant to Brooks.
“Imposing a compassionate sentence on Mr. Brooks does not undermine the sentencing factors,” the document reads. “On the contrary, it is a just sentence because it recognizes that no matter how much time the Court imposes, it will never compare to the feeling with which Mr. Brooks now must live, knowing that a person died as a result of his actions. He will have to think about that every day of his life, and that will weigh on him more than any lonely prison cell.”
Prosecutors argued against Randy Brooks’ 200-month sentencing request, stating that while Brooks now “claims he is sorry the victim died, his actions at the time prove he was more interested in ransacking the house for money that he could spend on drugs than he was in helping a dying man.”
The Hobbs Act, passed by Congress in 1946, prohibits actual or attempted robbery affecting interstate or foreign commerce “in any way or degree.”
Officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Southeast Minnesota Violent Crime Enforcement Team, law enforcement agencies from the metro area and the Wabasha and Winona police departments participated in the arrests.