NYPD Officer Convicted in Perfume Warehouse Robbery Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 16, 2010|
NEWARK, NJ—An officer of the New York City Police Department was convicted today for robbing a Carlstadt warehouse where more than $500,000 in perfume was stolen while 11 employees were held hostage, United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The jury returned a guilty verdict against Kelvin L. Jones, 29, of Yonkers, N.Y, following a two-and-a-half-week trial before United States District Judge William H. Walls in Newark. Jones was convicted on all four counts charged in the Indictment on which he was tried: conspiring to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and interstate transportation of stolen merchandise.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman stated: “Kelvin Jones chose to use his badge to commit crimes. We have no tolerance for this behavior, and we thank the jury for confirming that enforcers of the law are also beholden to it. This result is a credit to our law enforcement partners—true examples of the dedicated, honest majority of those in public service.”
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:
Beginning in December 2009, Jones organized and planned the robbery of the Carlstadt warehouse, to include conducting surveillance and “casing” the planned robbery site. He recruited fellow NYPD officers Brian Checo and Richard LeBlanca, and former NYPD officer Orlando Garcia to participate in the robbery. Jones and these individuals, along with several others, had participated in an earlier robbery of a warehouse in Brooklyn in the summer of 2009, also organized by Jones.
On February 9, 2010, Jones and the other conspirators rented six moving trucks, some of which Jones had reserved under the name “Mike Smith” to avoid detection by law enforcement. Thereafter, the robbery crew raided the warehouse, some carrying firearms, under the guise of performing a legitimate police inspection.
During the raid, Jones and his crew forcibly restrained 11 employees’ hands behind their backs with plastic ties, and held them hostage for approximately three hours. To give the appearance of engaging in a police inspection, Jones read employees’ personal information from printouts that he obtained from the NYPD 46th police precinct where he was stationed. Jones also arranged for several other conspirators, along with day laborers hired to assist in moving boxes, to load rental trucks with thousands of boxes of high-end perfume and fragrances. Jones also directed the conspirators to rob the individual employees of their cash and cell phones, and to remove the warehouse security equipment.
Four of the six trucks brought to the warehouse were used to transport the stolen merchandise from New Jersey to New York, where it was unloaded into rental storage facilities.
In the days following the robbery, Jones instructed the conspirators to falsely report their credit cards and driver’s licenses as stolen, and to dispose of items used during the robbery in an effort to conceal his and others’ involvement in the heist.
While detained at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, N.J., Jones tried to convince LeBlanca to lie to law enforcement by making up a false story in an effort to clear Jones of involvement in the robbery, offering $100,000 in exchange for the fabrication.
Sentencing is currently scheduled for March 21, 2011. Jones faces a maximum potential penalty per count as follows:
Count/Maximum Potential Penalty
1 – Conspiracy to Obstruct Interstate Commerce by Armed Robbery: 20 years in prison; $250,000 fine
2 – Obstruction of Interstate Commerce by Armed Robbery: 20 years in prison; $250,000 fine
3 – Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence: five years in prison (consecutive to sentence for other counts)
4 – Conspiracy to Transport Stolen Goods in Interstate Commerce: five years in prison; $250,000 fine
Nine other individuals, including Checo, LeBlanca, and Garcia, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the heist.
“Today’s verdict marks the end of a crooked path Mr. Jones chose to take and a sad day for law enforcement,” said Edward Kahrer, Assistant Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Newark Field Office. “However, we hope it sends a clear message to people everywhere that those sworn to uphold the law are not entitled to break it.”
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for the investigation leading to the Indictment. He also thanked the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, as well as the Carlstadt Police Department, for their work in the investigation. He also thanked the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office for their initial assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Gramiccioni and Eric T. Kanefsky of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Michael A. Orozco, Esq., Newark