Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James Higgins, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and William J. Bratton, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the unsealing of a complaint charging RONDU FRISBY, a/k/a “Reef,” for his role in an armed robbery of a store in the Diamond District of Manhattan on November 11, 2014. FRISBY was arrested yesterday and was presented today in Manhattan federal court before the Honorable Ronald L. Ellis and detained on consent.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Thanks to the dogged detective work of the NYPD and the ATF, and the determined efforts of career prosecutors in my Office's Violent and Organized Crime Unit, one of the people allegedly responsible for a brazen armed robbery is in custody. As alleged, the defendant and his accomplices used deceit to gain entry to a Diamond District jewelry store in broad daylight last week, but once inside, the tactics turned violent. With the arrest of Rondu Frisby we are closer to apprehending the other two men willing to use a pistol for profit.”
ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge James Higgins said: “I am extremely gratified that the investigators involved have swiftly apprehended and arrested at least one of the perpetrators in this investigation. This arrest stems from the investigative efforts of the newly formed ATF/NYPD robbery task force. Yesterday's arrest demonstrates the effectiveness of combining federal and local law enforcement resources and expertise in targeting violent offenders.”
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “Through coordinated efforts with our law enforcement partners, Rondu Frisby’s role was quickly uncovered, and he was tracked down and charged. We will continue to pursue the remaining fugitives until they too are brought to justice.”
According to the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, it is alleged that:
On November 11, 2014, two men carried out an armed commercial robbery of a jewelry store (the “Store”) on the 8th Floor of a building on 47th Street in the Diamond District of Manhattan. The Store is not open to the public but is a space where clients can view and purchase jewelry. RONDU FRISBY, the defendant, is a friend of the owner of the store (the “Owner”). FRISBY arrived at the Store moments before the robbery after having told the Owner that he was going to come by to help a friend pick out jewelry for the friend’s girlfriend. Just after FRISBY arrived, at approximately 2:20 in the afternoon – in broad daylight as the Veteran’s Day Parade proceeded nearby – one man (“Perpetrator-1”), dressed in a suit, carrying a bag, and appearing to be a messenger, came to the door of the store, while a second man (“Perpetrator-2”) served as a lookout in the hallway. FRISBY let Perpetrator-1 into the Store. After entering, Perpetrator-1 first said that he was there to serve the Owner of the Store with papers, and took two envelopes out of his bag before placing them on a desk. Perpetrator-1 then took out a black semiautomatic gun and pointed it at the Owner, FRISBY, and two others present and demanded that they give him all the jewelry in the Store. FRISBY and the others emptied more than $600,000 worth of jewelry from a safe and other locations and placed it into Perpetrator-1’s bag, before he and Perpetrator-2 left the scene. FRISBY, among others, was interviewed after the robbery and provided an account of what happened but did not state that he knew Perpetrator-1 or Perpetrator-2.
Perpetrator-1 was identified based on fingerprint analysis of the envelopes left in the store, and a cellphone number for Perpetrator-1 was then obtained. Cellphone analysis shows 25 phone communications between FRISBY and Perpetrator-1 on the day of the robbery, both before and after the robbery but not during it. In addition, surveillance footage from 47th Street just before the robbery shows FRISBY walking toward the Store, with Perpetrator-1 20 feet behind him, and Perpetrator-2 30 feet behind FRISBY. In particular, at 2:14 p.m., both FRISBY and Perpetrator-1 can be seen talking on their phones. Cellphone records show a call between FRISBY and Perpetrator-1 at that time.
A search of FRISBY’s apartment pursuant to a search warrant uncovered in excess of $100,000 in cash.
FRISBY, 37 of New York, New York, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of aiding and abetting the brandishing of a firearm in connection with the robbery conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, with a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the NYPD and the Joint Robbery Task Force, consisting of members of the NYPD, ATF, and the United States Marshals Service.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Russell Capone is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.