Four Members Of Gang That Hit Balenciaga Are Indicted - 27 East

Four Members Of Gang That Hit Balenciaga Are Indicted

Security Footage Of The Theft
icon 1 Video & 4 Photos

Security Footage Of The Theft

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney held a press conference Wednesday following the indictments of the suspects in last weeks snatch and grab purse thefts. T.E. McMorrow

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney held a press conference Wednesday following the indictments of the suspects in last weeks snatch and grab purse thefts. T.E. McMorrow

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney held a press conference Wednesday following the indictments of the suspects in last weeks snatch and grab purse thefts. T.E. McMorrow

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney held a press conference Wednesday following the indictments of the suspects in last weeks snatch and grab purse thefts. T.E. McMorrow

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney held a press conference Wednesday following the indictments of the suspects in last weeks snatch and grab purse thefts. T.E. McMorrow

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney held a press conference Wednesday following the indictments of the suspects in last weeks snatch and grab purse thefts. T.E. McMorrow

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney held a press conference Wednesday following the indictments of the suspects in last weeks snatch and grab purse thefts. T.E. McMorrow

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney held a press conference Wednesday following the indictments of the suspects in last weeks snatch and grab purse thefts. T.E. McMorrow

T.E. McMorrow on Mar 19, 2022

Three of four Newark residents indicted last week for the alleged swarm-and-snatch robbery of a couture East Hampton Village shop remained behind bars as of Wednesday morning. The alleged gang made off with $94,000 in pocketbooks, according to District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Jamal Johns, 25, Baseemah Davis, 34, and Wazir Rodgers, 24, are all being held in county jail, unable to post the bail amounts set for them during their arraignments last week. Johns, whose bail was set at $75,000, is being held in the Riverside facility, while, Davis, whose bail was set at $75,000, and Rodgers, whose bail was $50,000, are in the Yaphank jail.

They are all facing the same two felony charges handed up by a grand jury of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, as well as a misdemeanor count of drug possession involving methamphetamine.

A fourth defendant, Ali Harris, 28, was released without bail. The main difference between Harris and the others is the lack of a criminal record that would trigger the setting of bail.

All four are due to appear again before State Supreme Court Justice Anthony Senft in the coming days.

There is an additional suspect who has not yet been indicted, a Jane Doe. The unnamed woman has eluded police since the March 3 midday robbery of the Balenciaga store on Newtown Lane.

According to the management of the store, of the $94,000 worth of handbags stolen in the robbery on March 3 at about 1:30 in the afternoon, which lasted less than 30 seconds, the most expensive were two Hourglass Medium Handbags, one black and the other mink gray, with price tags of $3,050 each.

A store video of the incident, which was displayed during a press conference held March 16, shows three men and two women swarming through the store, scooping up handbags in a manner of seconds. This occurred after the unnamed suspect distracted the only clerk on the floor of the store by asking to see a pair of shoes. As soon as the clerk left the room, the other four swarmed in.

Police officers pursued the black 2019 Dodge Durango with New Jersey plates and heavily tinted windows that the suspects allegedly fled in. Twice — first in East Hampton, immediately after the theft, then later on Route 111 in Manorville, approaching the Long Island Expressway — police chose to break off the chase. In both instances, Tierney said, the Durango, moving at over 100 mph, was zigzagging across lanes of oncoming traffic, creating the prospect of a vehicular catastrophe.

However, after ending his pursuit, the second officer, a state trooper, Tierney said, was able to trail the Durango, undetected, at a safe distance.

The five suspects, he said, did make it to the LIE, headed west, but within one exit realized that black smoke was pouring out of the rear of the vehicle, and pulled over to ditch it.

The state trooper then pursued the fleeing five on foot. The Suffolk County Police, with aviation and K-9 units assisting, joined in the pursuit, leading to the arrest of four of the five suspects.

Tierney said 34 of the stolen 48 bags were recovered at the scene of the arrest, valued at $69,000.

The D.A. said at the press conference, “If you enter Suffolk County as an organized retail theft ring, and you endanger people in the process, you are going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office and our law enforcement partners.”

He said that his office believes that this group is likely part of a larger ring, perhaps nationwide, and that there is a secondary market in place to sell stolen items, “typically on the internet.”

Both Senft and Tierney referenced bail reform laws that went into effect in 2019. In releasing Harris, Senft said he was following the dictates of the State Legislature, as he was unable to consider any other issues besides the classification of the crime, given that Harris does not have a serious criminal history. The charges against the four are considered nonviolent, with bail normally not being allowed.

The cases of Davis, Johns and Rodgers were different.

Davis has multiple felony charges currently open in Nassau County, the result of two arrests between Christmas Eve 2021 and January 14. According to the lead prosecutor on the case, James O’Rourke IV, who is being aided by Johanna Poremba, Davis was issued a GPS bracelet after a New Jersey arrest — apparently now inoperative — which she was wearing at the time of the crime.

Her attorney, Daniel Schilling, argued March 16 that the new charges out of East Hampton do not qualify to have bail set. Senft wasn’t buying the argument, saying Davis was a flight risk.

Jamal Johns was held after his arrest earlier this month. At 25, he has already been convicted three times on felony charges, meaning he could not be released following his most recent arrest without a bail hearing. Again, Senft stated that Johns was a flight risk before setting bail.

Rodgers was arraigned two days later, when Senft again found that the defendant’s criminal record was serious enough to require bail. He was recently sentenced to two years’ probation in New Jersey, Senft said.

At the end of his press conference, Tierney said, “What we are seeing with these rings is they will go to locations that they think are soft targets, and the merchandise they take they can get revenue for on the secondary market.”

He said that the investigation is ongoing, with additional charges possible.

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