New York - Five plead guilty this week pursuant to an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York’s El Dorado’s Task Force, working with the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the New York division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Sira Abassi, Kenlee Galvez, David Bradford, Jeremias Munoz, and Luis Monsanto-Germosen pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery during August and September of 2017.
The robbery crew committed at least 11 armed robberies in New York City, including stabbing a victim in the torso during a home invasion robbery.
“Today’s guilty pleas reflect the highly-effective work of our NYPD investigators and our law enforcement partners at the Southern District, whose precise focus on the real drivers of crime in New York City is relentless. It is imperative that we continue to strongly collaborate in this way – that is how we will keep New Yorkers safe in every neighborhood,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill.
“The defendants were members of an organized ring of armed robbers that committed numerous brazen acts of violence all across the city. Thanks to the investigative work of the ATF/NYPD Joint Robbery Task Force and the collaborative efforts of our state and federal partners, they will no longer prey on the innocent in their community. ATF remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting citizens from violence and the lasting effects it has on communities. I would also like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case,” said ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan M. Benedict.
“During August and September of 2017, a rotating crew of armed robbers committed nearly a dozen armed robberies in New York City, victimizing businesses and homes alike. During one home invasion robbery in the middle of the night, a victim was stabbed in the torso. Thanks to our law enforcement partners, this robbery crew has been dismantled and all five defendants in this case have admitted to taking part in this brazen scheme,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman.
According to the allegations in the complaint, the superseding indictment to which each defendant pled guilty, public court filings, and statements made in court, for approximately two months – August and September of 2017 – a rotating crew of robbers committed at least 11 successful armed robberies in New York City and attempted several more. They targeted primarily Asian-owned businesses in Brooklyn and Queens, such as billiards halls and internet cafes. They also committed home invasion robberies of at least two residences in Queens believed to be locations of gambling operations. The robbers typically conducted these robberies at night. For each robbery, they were armed with at least one knife and BB-gun, which they brandished and pointed at victims. At times, they forced victims to open cash registers at knifepoint, while clutching a victim’s neck.
During these robberies, the robbers physically injured at least two victims. During a home invasion robbery, one victim – who was asleep when the robbers entered – woke up, resisted, and was stabbed in the torso during the ensuing scuffle; his bloodied shirt, and his doubling over in pain, are visible on video surveillance. Second, during a robbery of a commercial establishment, a perpetrator hit a resisting victim in the head with a BB gun. Over the course of the conspiracy, the robbers used force, and the threat of force, to take the following items from victims: a total of more than approximately $20,000, approximately 20 cellphones, credit cards, a wallet, driver’s licenses, a social security card, and other electronic devices. They took cellphones so that victims could not call 911.
The scheme continued until the night of September 29, 2017, when four defendants – Abassi, Galvez, Bradford, and Munoz – were caught red-handed en route to another robbery. They were found in possession of, among other things, a BB-gun, two screwdrivers, three masks, two pairs of gloves, backpacks to fill with robbery proceeds, attire that matched that of the robbers on video from a robbery earlier that week, and a spiral notebook containing handwritten notes (e.g., “gold,” “straight cash,” “doctor,” and “drugs!”) including names, addresses, and physical descriptions of apparent robbery targets.
The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by Judge Batts. Sentencings are scheduled for different dates in 2019. This matter is being handled by the SDNY’s General Crimes Unit.