U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Tennessee
(865) 545-4167
March 3, 2015

Hardee’s Shooter Thompson Pleads Guilty to Robbery and Gun Charges

KNOXVILLE, TN—On Mar. 2, 2015, Stephen Thompson, 25, of Knoxville, Tenn., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville, to two counts of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of discharging a firearm during the robbery. Sentencing was set for 10:00 a.m., July 8, 2015, in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

Pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement, Thompson agreed to a term of 30 years in prison, to be followed by a term of supervised release, and he will be ordered to pay restitution. There is no parole in the federal system. The agreed upon sentence is subject to the approval of Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan.

According to facts outlined in his plea agreement on file with the U.S. District Court, Thompson admitted to having committed a total of 13 robberies between March 2009 and October 2014. Notably, during every robbery he committed, Thompson either brandished a real firearm or an object that appeared to be a real firearm and, during the November 2009 robbery of a Hardee’s restaurant, Thompson shot a victim employee in the chest before fleeing with money from the restaurant.

Specifically, Thompson robbed the following locations on the following dates: (1) on Mar. 2, 2009, Thompson robbed the Sports Seasons, located on Kingston Pike in Knoxville; (2) on Sept. 14, 2009, Thompson robbed the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, located on North Cedar Bluff Road in Knoxville; (3) on Oct. 9, 2009, Thompson robbed the Chuck-E-Cheese restaurant, located on Kingston Pike, in Knoxville; (4) on Nov. 9, 2009, Thompson robbed the Pizza Hut restaurant, located on Kingston Pike, in Knoxville; (5) on Nov. 10, 2009, Thompson robbed the Hardee’s restaurant, located on Western Avenue, in Knoxville; (6) on Feb. 14, 2010, Thompson robbed the Captain D’s restaurant, located on Merchants Drive, in Knoxville; (7) on Jul. 21, 2010, Thompson robbed the Hardee’s restaurant, located on Chapman Highway, in Knoxville; (8) on Aug. 5, 2010, Thompson robbed the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, located on North Broadway, in Knoxville; (9) on Oct. 17, 2010, Thompson robbed the Pizza Hut restaurant, located on Cedar Lane, in Knoxville; (10) on May 16, 2013, Thompson robbed the Wendy’s restaurant, located on Kingston Pike, in Knoxville; (11) on Sept. 3, 2013, Thompson robbed the Wendy’s restaurant, located on North Broadway, in Knoxville; (12) on Aug. 11, 2014, Thompson robbed the Petro’s Chili & Chips restaurant, located on Kingston Pike, in Knoxville; and (13) on Oct. 25, 2014, Thompson robbed the Subway restaurant, located on North Cedar Bluff Road in Knoxville.

U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said, “This individual thought he had avoiding detection of committing many serious violent crimes over the course of about five years, but the members of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force were determined to solve these cases and bring Thompson to justice. I commend their perseverance and dedication.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge, Knoxville Division, Edward Reinhold stated, “As this five year investigation demonstrates, memories will not fade and freedom is temporary for those who place our community in danger. The Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office devote resources to the Safe Streets Task Force, acting as a force multiplier. The FBI will continue to pool resources and work jointly with city, county, and state law enforcement to ensure that violent crime does not go unchecked in East Tennessee.”

This case was the result of an investigation by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, which consists of FBI Special Agents, Knox County Sheriff’s Deputies, and Knoxville Police Department Officers. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly A. Norris represented the United States.

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