Armed Robber Pleads Guilty to Robbing a Business and to Two Home Invasion Robberies
One of the Victims Died as a Result of the Robbery;
Posed as a Police Investigator to Gain Entry Into Homes
Baltimore, Maryland - Daniel Chase, age 65, of Browns Mill, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit an armed commercial robbery and two home invasion robberies, and using a firearm during a crime of violence.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III of the Baltimore City Police Department; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
According to Chase’s plea agreement, Chase and others were recruited to rob Constantine Frank, the owner of Precision Vending located on S. Lakewood Avenue in Baltimore. One of the robbers personally knew the owner from prior business and social dealings, and he was familiar with the physical layout and security at Precision Vending because he had previously visited Mr. Frank there on several occasions. On July 29, 2009, after being advised that the owner was by himself inside, Chase and another robber entered the business disguised as package delivery men. Chase took out a gun from a false package they had brought inside, brandished the weapon and then gave it to the other robber who used the gun to hold Constantine Frank captive. The two robbers also used zip-ties and duct tape to restrain the victim while Chase searched the business for cash, stealing over $10,000.
When the robbers left the building, they left Constantine Frank bound and restrained, knowing that he was sweating profusely and in obvious discomfort. Shortly after leaving, Chase called one of Mr. Frank’s other businesses and said: “Your boss is in his office and he is not doing so good.” Officers found Mr. Frank conscious, but still in physical restraints and unable to speak. When the officers asked if he had been robbed, Mr. Frank nodded his head yes. Frank died less than two weeks later on August 11, 2009. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was an intracerebral hemorrhage associated with stress resulting from the robbery.
After the robbery, Chase and his conspirators planned the robbery of the former owner of Citizens Pharmacy Services located on Market Street in Havre de Grace, Maryland. One of the robbers knew the store owner. The conspirators monitored the store owner’s residence in Pikesville, Maryland, believing that the owner kept some of the profits of his business at his home.
On September 2, 2009, Chase and another robber drove up to the security gate of the neighborhood where the store owner’s residence was located. Chase called the owner from the gate’s security phone, pretended to be a police investigator and thereby gained access to the neighborhood. Once inside the home, and after the store owner’s wife joined them at Chase’s request, Chase opened a briefcase and took out a gun. Pointing the weapon at the couple, Chase ordered them to lie on the floor. The other robber then entered the residence wearing a black ski mask. At some point during the robbery, three women who provided maid services for the residence arrived and they too were ordered to the ground and restrained. The owner’s wife was forced to accompany the second robber to a bedroom closet to open the safe from which the robbers took cash and jewelry.
Next, Chase and his conspirators planned to rob the owner of Sparrows Point Restaurant located on North Point Boulevard in Baltimore. Again, one of the conspirators knew the intended victim from eating at the restaurant, and had sold a mixing machine to the restaurant. Believing that the restaurant owner kept some of the business profits at his home in Cockeysville, Maryland, Chase and his conspirators on at least two occasions followed the owner as he left his restaurant and drove to his residence. Because of a disagreement among the co-conspirators, Antowan Bell was recruited to participate in this robbery.
On September 29, 2009, Chase and Bell drove to the restaurant owner’s residence, whereupon Chase falsely identified himself as an investigator with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney, displaying a fake badge he had created. Once inside, Chase took out a gun from a briefcase, pointed it at the restaurant owner and handcuffed the victim to a kitchen chair. Bell then entered the home, and the robbers demanded to know the location of the victim’s safe. The victim replied that he had no safe, but that money from his restaurant was in a drawer in the kitchen. Chase stole approximately $10,000 from the drawer. The robbers rummaged through the rest of the home and eventually discovered a safe in the basement. Chase forced the victim to provide the safe’s combination by threatening to cut off the victim’s finger. The robbers took approximately $140,000 from the safe, which included profits from the restaurant, and left the owner bound.
On November 8, 2009, Chase and Bell drove to Atlantic City, New Jersey where they met a third conspirator at a café to plan a robbery in New Jersey. Chase and his co-conspirators were arrested as they left the café. Investigators searched Chase’s car and seized a brief case which contained mace, rope, rubber gloves, three sets of handcuffs, three empty money bags, a knife, tape, and a fake badge purporting to be identification for “John Peters” of the “Office of the Attorney General, Major Crimes Division” for the State of New Jersey, bearing a photograph of Chase.
Chase faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the armed robbery and a minimum mandatory sentence of seven years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, up to life in prison, for using a gun during a crime of violence. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has scheduled sentencing for March 24, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
On October 27, 2010, Antowan Bell, age 25, of Rosedale, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit armed commercial robberies and using a firearm during a crime of violence. Judge Legg has scheduled Bell’s sentencing for January 13, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked: the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Baltimore City Police Department; Baltimore County Police Department; New Jersey State Police; the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in this investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Debra L. Dwyer and Thiru Vignarajah, who are prosecuting the case.