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Ten Members of Westchester-Based Crew Charged in White Plains Federal Court With Robbery and Firearms Offenses, Among Other Crimes

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Ten Members of Westchester-Based Crew Charged in White Plains Federal Court With Robbery and Firearms Offenses, Among Other Crimes

April 12, 2017 - 01:58

Ten Members of Westchester-Based Crew Charged in White Plains Federal Court With Robbery and Firearms Offenses, Among Other Crimes

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NEW YORK, NY -- Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr., District Attorney for the County of Westchester, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging ten individuals with participating in a conspiracy to commit robberies, including at least nine robberies and attempted robberies that occurred in Westchester County and the Bronx, New York.  The indictment also charges certain defendants with carrying, brandishing, and discharging firearms in connection with the robbery conspiracy, as well as other theft-related offenses.

Seven of the defendants charged were taken into custody today.  Three defendants, JASON AUZA, GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ and KASEAN GALLOWAY, were already in state custody on other charges.  All of the defendants arrested today will be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison in White Plains federal court this afternoon. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “As alleged, the ten defendants charged today went on a brazen crime spree across Westchester and the Bronx, robbing and attempting to rob at least nine businesses and drug dealers, often armed with guns.  We are grateful to all of our law enforcement partners for their work in bringing the dangerous alleged crimes by this determined crew to an end.”

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, JR. said:  “I applaud the outstanding police work that enabled us to apprehend these dangerous criminals. This inter-agency collaboration is critical to our efforts to bring down these gangs who have been terrorizing our citizens over the past two years.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said:  “As we allege, robberies and burglaries were the profit making ways of the 10 members of a loosely organized criminal charged group today. Sometimes armed, sometimes not, this crew varied their targets from commercial establishments to drug dealers. Getting criminal groups off our streets is the mission of the Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force and I’m proud to say today’s arrest meets that mission. I commend the FBI agents and the task force detectives and officers on their hard work and collaboration in bringing this investigation towards prosecution.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment and other publicly filed documents[1]:

From at least 2012 to in or about December 2016 ALEX AYALA, a/k/a “Al Bundy,” JASON AUZA, DENNIS BROWN, a/k/a “Bundles,” NELSON CARTAGENA, ANDRE EMILIEN, a/k/a “Dre,” ELBIO ESPAILLAT, a/k/a “LB,” GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ, a/k/a “Chino,” KESEAN GALLOWAY, a/k/a “K,” JOHN NASSAR, a/k/a “Mush,” a/k/a “Big Johnny,” and PAUL VALLARO, were members of a loosely organized criminal crew based primarily in Westchester County, New York (the “Crew”).  Members of the Crew worked together to enrich themselves and their fellow Crew members through thefts, burglaries, and robberies, both armed and unarmed.  From 2015 to December 2016, members of the Crew burglarized over 50 commercial establishments in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, and Fairfield (CT) Counties.  With respect to robberies, members of the Crew targeted both commercial establishments and drug dealers.  Additionally, members of the Crew worked together to sell drugs, including drugs stolen from drug dealers during robberies and other thefts, and shared in the profits from those sales.

Count One of the Indictment charges AYALA, AUZA, BROWN, CARTAGENA, EMILIEN, ESPAILLAT, FERNANDEZ, GALLOWAY, and VALLARO with conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robberies.  Count Two charges FERNANDEZ and NASSAR with robbing a pizzeria employee at gunpoint in the vicinity of Morsmere Avenue in Yonkers on October 5, 2012.  Count three charges AYALA, AUZA, CARTAGENA, FERNANDEZ, GALLOWAY, and VALLARO with using and carrying firearms, some of which were brandished and discharged, during and in relation to the robbery conspiracy charged in Count One.  Court Four charges FERNANDEZ and NASSAR with using, carrying and brandishing firearms during and in relation to the robbery charged in Count Two.  Count Five charges CARTAGENA with transporting over $25,000 in stolen goods across state lines in connection with a commercial burglary in Connecticut on December 2, 2016.  Count Six charges GALLOWAY with committing a carjacking in Yonkers on February 21, 2016.

Charts containing the names, ages, residences, charges, and maximum penalties for the defendants are set forth below.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force, which is comprised of agents and investigators from the FBI, the United States Probation Office, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, the New York City Police Department, the City of Yonkers Police Department, the City of Peekskill Police Department, and the Mount Vernon Police Department.

Mr. Kim also thanked the following law enforcement agencies for their assistance: the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, the Bedford Police Department, the Irvington Police Department, the Greenburgh Police Department, the Yorktown Police Department, the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the Village of Pleasantville Police Department, the Clarkstown Police Department, Town of Kent Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, the New York State Police, the Ridgefield (CT) Police Department, and the Danbury (CT) Police Department.

The case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn Martin and Scott Hartman, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Abinanti, of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, are in charge of the prosecution. 

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.