Group allegedly targeted, robbed small St. Paul pharmacies

Ray James Brown, charged with three holdups, told police an accomplice picked them out.

A Minneapolis man nabbed by police after a St. Paul pharmacy robbery on Tuesday has admitted to taking part in that holdup plus two others in the city this year, charges say.

Ray James Brown, 24, allegedly told police he was part of a group that targeted smaller drugstores that had been picked out and researched by an accomplice he identified as "Brick."

Authorities say smaller pharmacies have been hit with increasing frequency recently because they have less security, fewer customers and are easier to case. OxyContin is among the prescription drugs being sought.

On Tuesday, officers arrested Brown and two other men -- Rayshawn Brown, 20, who is his brother, and Michael B. Bynum, 30 -- after two masked men stole more than a pound of oxycodone, plus other drugs, from the West Seventh Pharmacy, 1106 W. 7th St.

Each was charged Thursday with first-degree aggravated robbery and first-degree controlled substance possession.

According to the charges, officers with St. Paul police and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office had been tipped to the robbery and stopped a car driven by Bynum shortly after the holdup. Bynum, who is paralyzed, was taken into custody then, and the Brown brothers were arrested after fleeing on foot.

Tuesday's holdup was Rayshawn Brown's first, according to statements made to police by both brothers, the charges say. Rayshawn had seen his brother with money "and asked how he could get some," the criminal complaint said.

Ray Brown also was charged Thursday with the armed robberies of Lloyd's Pharmacy, 720 Snelling Av. N., on Feb. 18 and of Pro Pharmacy, 242 Cleveland Av. S., on March 27.

In the Pro Pharmacy robbery, two masked men made off with more than 300 pills containing oxycodone, the charges said. The drugs were sold later for about $1,100, Ray Brown allegedly told police.

Anthony Lonetree • 612-875-0041

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