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Man indicted in Northwestern Wisconsin bank robberies

A Rice Lake, Wis., man was indicted Wednesday on federal charges for his alleged role in two armed bank robberies last year in Northwestern Wisconsin.

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A Rice Lake, Wis., man was indicted Wednesday on federal charges for his alleged role in two armed bank robberies last year in Northwestern Wisconsin.

A grand jury indicted 20-year-old Jesse Sweeter in the the May 2 armed robbery of the Shell Lake State Bank in Stone Lake, Wis., and the July 16 armed robbery of the Sterling Bank in Rice Lake, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Sweeter also is charged with brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence in the robbery of the Sterling Bank.

The Sawyer County Sheriff's Office reported that it received a hold-up alarm from the Shell Lake State Bank branch in Stone Lake at about 2:50 p.m. May 2. Bank employees told deputies they had been robbed by two armed males wearing ski masks and dark clothing, who left the scene headed toward Spooner.

Sweeter was arrested July 16 after law enforcement officers responding to an armed robbery at the Sterling Bank saw him running and stopped him. He had a bag that contained money and a handgun. He told police he robbed the Rice Lake bank to get money to pay off court obligations so he wouldn't go to jail.

If convicted, Sweeter faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison on each count of armed bank robbery. The count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence has a mandatory minimum penalty of seven years in federal prison served consecutively to any other sentence imposed in the case, authorities said.

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Sweeter was sentenced earlier this month in Eau Claire County Circuit Court to 3 ½ years in prison on a felony count of armed robbery as a party to a crime in the July 2 robbery of a Holiday gas station in Eau Claire, Wis.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram contributed to this report.

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