A 19-year-old Bradenton man on Tuesday was sentenced to life in federal prison for hold-ups at three gas stations in October 2009.
Charles Bernard Tolson was ordered to serve three concurrent 125-month sentences for each robbery, followed by three concurrent life sentences for brandishing a firearm during each robbery, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Tampa.
Testimony at Tolson's trial in February revealed that he and a co-defendant, Lashay Theodora Cooper, robbed a Circle K/Shell station in Hillsborough County, and then 45 minutes later robbed the Uppy's BP station on U.S. 41 North in Palmetto. During the second robbery, Tolson tried to shoot the clerk on two occasions because she would not open the cash register. The gun misfired so he gave it to Cooper, who severely pistol-whipped the woman, according to authorities.
Two days later, they robbed a Chevron gas station on State Road 70 East in Bradenton, according to testimony.
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Cooper was recently sentenced to 50 years in federal prison, to be served consecutively with a 7-year Florida prison sentence he is now serving, for his role in the robberies.