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Fig Tree robbers sentenced to prison

Two men have been sentenced to serve prison time for their role in an armed robbery last August at the Fig Tree Garden and Home Décor store in Cloquet.

 Rico Gause, 38, of Duluth was sentenced on Dec. 23 in Carlton County Court to 60 months in prison after being convicted on one felony count of first-degree aggravated robbery. Judge Dale Wolf also ordered Gause to pay restitution and $210 in court fees. He will be given credit for 130 days of jail time already served.

Shane Patrick Anderson, 23, of Duluth was sentenced on Jan. 2 to serve 41 months in prison, with credit for 139 days already served. Judge Robert Macaulay ordered him to pay restitution and $160 in court fees.

Two women were also implicated in the Aug. 17, 2013, robbery. Geri Mathison, 30, of Duluth was sentenced Oct. 7 to 24 months in prison for first-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. Judge Macaulay stayed the sentence for three years and ordered that Mathison serve three years of supervised probation. She was also sentenced to six months of local confinement, with credit for 51 days already served. She must participate in paying restitution to the victim and pay $310 in court fees.

A second accomplice, Sydney Lakatos, 21, of Duluth pleaded guilty to first-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery on Dec. 30, and she is scheduled for sentencing at 9 a.m. Feb. 10.

The criminal complaints filed against the four stated the robbery was reported at approximately 5:57 p.m. Aug. 16 by an employee of the business. Police responded to the store, which is located on Highway 33 North in the Sunnyside neighborhood.

The employee told authorities she was working the front counter of the store when a white male wearing dark clothing and a black male wearing a white T-shirt and plaid shorts entered the business. Both men were wearing camouflage masks across their faces.

She went on to say the white male brandished a semi-automatic handgun and held it up to her while demanding she open the register. The black male then went behind the counter to watch the employee after she was told to dump out the money from the register as well as from her purse, which had been sitting on the counter.

The employee said the men then departed and she called 911 as soon as they were out of sight.

The four were later apprehended when a traffic stop of the suspects’ vehicle was made by authorities just north of Cromwell.

All four occupants of the vehicle were detained, read their Miranda rights and interviewed. During the course of the investigation, officers learned that all four allegedly had prior knowledge of the pending robbery and the intent to use a gun while committing it. Authorities also learned that Lakatos and Mathison waited in the car while Gause and Anderson donned masks and went inside the store with the gun to rob it. It was also discovered that Mathison had initially provided officers with a false name.

The four were then placed under arrest and their vehicle was impounded.

Minnesota State Conservation Officer Scott Staples of Carlton County and his detection dog, Schody, were called in, and Schody later came up with the magazine of a gun thought to be the one used in the robbery.

According to court records, Gause was convicted of second-degree burglary in St. Louis County on March 26, 2010, and was sentenced to 33 months in prison. He received a stayed sentence of five years and was ordered to complete five years of supervised probation, which he had twice violated at the time he was apprehended for the robbery in Cloquet.