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A federal grand jury in Chicago has indicted an Evanston man on robbery and firearm charges in connection with three gas station holdups in Skokie and Lincolnwood.

Mario Banks Jr., 24, is charged with three counts of robbery and three counts of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. 

The indictment accuses Banks of robbing three gas stations at gunpoint. He allegedly started last Nov. 4, targeting Bucky’s Express Mobil, on Cicero Avenue in Lincolnwood, then hit the Shell station in the 3300 block of Howard in Skokie on Feb. 16 and again targeted Bucky’s on Feb. 19. 

The indictment was returned June 20, in federal court in Chicago.  Banks has pleaded not guilty to the charges and he remains detained in federal custody.  A status hearing is set for Sept. 12, before U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois along with police chiefs from Evanston, Lincolnwood and Skokie and the head of the Chicago office of the FBI.

The firearm counts each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of life, while each robbery count is punishable by up to 20 years.

Banks had in years past twice been charged by Evanston police with firearms offenses when he lived at 1634 Pitner Ave.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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