Two men, one from Middletown and one from New Castle, were sentenced Aug. 30 for robbing 20 stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland in the summer and fall of 2016.

Two men, one from Middletown and one from New Castle, were sentenced Aug. 30 for robbing 20 stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Leonard P. Stark sentenced Michael Kolmonen, 30, of Middletown, to 15 years in prison and Brian Branch, 30, of New Castle to 16 1/2 years in prison, according to a Department of Justice press release from U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss, District of Delaware.

In the summer and fall of 2016, Branch and Kolmonen combined to rob stores 20 times, almost always as a team. One store, a Walgreens in Boothwyn, Pa., was robbed twice.

In almost every robbery, Branch entered the store, showed a gun, and demanded money from the register. The two men victimized 30 people, most of whom were teenagers or the elderly. The victims were as young as 17 and as old as 76 years old.

They robbed:

1. BP, 2360 Pulaski Highway, New Castle,

2. Walgreens, 4114 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark,

3. Walgreens, 1500 Beaverbrook Plaza, New Castle,

4. Walgreens, 2608 Naamans Creek Road, Boothwyn, Pa.,

5. Walgreens, 19 Marrows Road, Newark,

6. Rite Aid, 738 Pulaski Highway, Elkton, Md.,

7. Walgreens, 2719 Pulaski Highway, Newark,

8. Walgreens, 372 Possum Park Road, Newark,

9. CVS, 366 East Chestnut Hill Road, Newark,

10. CVS, 1545 Pulaski Highway, Bear,

11. Dunkirk Liquors, 2 Dunlinden Drive, Wilmington,

12. Walgreens, 1508 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington,

13. Walgreens, 1120 Pulaski Highway, Bear,

14. Walgreens, 2608 Naamans Creek Road, Boothwyn, Pa.,

15. Walgreens, 301 East Pulaski Highway, Elkton, Md.,

16. Rite Aid, 501 East Basin Road, New Castle,

17. Papa John’s, 529 East Basin Road, New Castle,

18. Rite Aid, 4607 Stanton-Ogletown Road, Newark,

19. CVS, 366 East Chestnut Hill Road, Newark,

20. Valero Shore Stop, 796 N. Old Baltimore Pike, New Castle.

In sentencing the defendants, Chief Judge Stark stated that the defendants engaged in a “reign of terror for several months and both defendants had equal roles in it.”

U.S. Attorney Weiss said the robberies were particularly brazen.

"The defendants robbed stores in broad daylight and their victims were often the most vulnerable among us—employees whose only crime was trying to make a living," said Weiss. "This case was cracked because of the outstanding work of the Delaware State Police and the FBI Baltimore, Wilmington Office. They, like our office, are dedicated to rooting out violent crime and catching anyone who threatens our communities."

Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr., Superintendent of the Delaware State Police, said, "The sentencing hearings were centered around the victims, and the lasting effect that these violent crimes had and will continue to have on their lives going forward. The investigation, arrest and successful prosecution of these individuals was a direct result of our continued partnerships with federal, state, and local jurisdictions in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. There is no doubt that the open communication and coordination of resources throughout these agencies prevented others from being victimized."

Gordon B. Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore FBI said the investigation of serial armed robbers requires close collaboration between the FBI and local and state law enforcement partners.

"I am extremely proud of the collaborative effort put forth in order to ensure these defendant were brought to justice and will no longer be able to terrorize or threaten the hardworking citizens and businesses,” said Johnson. "The citizens of Delaware have the FBI’s commitment that we will work with our local, state and federal partners to remove violent criminals from their neighborhoods."

This case was investigated by the FBI Baltimore, Wilmington Office; the Delaware State Police, Upper Darby (Pa.) Police Department and Elkton (Md.) Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander S. Mackler prosecuted the case.