News and Press Releases

Twenty Members of a Violent Jewelry Store Robbery Ring Charged with over a Dozen Armed Thefts

March 07, 2005

The "Pink Houses Crew" Heists More Than $2.5 Million In Jewelry

ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, WILLIAM G. McMAHON, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms & Explosives, PASQUALE J. D'AMURO, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York, CHARLES J. HYNES, Kings County District Attorney, RICHARD A. BROWN, Queens County District Attorney, JAMES LAWRENCE, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department, and RAYMOND W. KELLY, Commissioner, New York City Police Department, today announced the unsealing of a superseding indictment and the arrests of 20 leaders, members and associates of the "Pink Houses" Crew for their participation in over a dozen armed robberies of jewelry stores, jewelry salespersons and others throughout New York City, Nassau County, and Westchester County. During their year-and-a-half crime spree beginning in August 2003, gang members stole jewelry valued at over $2.5 million, furs valued at $250,000, and $10,000 worth of international telephone cards. The indictment also charges that crew members shot and seriously wounded one of their own gang members, whom they suspected of being an informant.

The investigation leading to the indictment and arrests announced today was a multi-agency, coordinated effort by the foregoing federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors' officers, with additional assistance provided by the New York County District Attorney's Office, the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, the Rockville Centre Police Department, and the Tuckahoe, New York, Police Department.

Sixteen of the defendants are scheduled to be arraigned later today before United States District Judge Thomas C. Platt at the U. S. Courthouse in Central Islip, New York. Defendants JAMEL THOMPSON and FRANK MOREA are scheduled to be arraigned by Judge Platt tomorrow. Defendants CARL POLLARD and DARNELL FOSKEY remain at large.

According to the superseding indictment, the Pink Houses Crew consisted of three related street gangs based at or nearby the Louis H. Pink Houses public housing complex in East New York. The combined crew included gang members loyal to LARONE GRAHAM and KAREEM DAVIS; members of the "Neutral For Life" gang, also known as "NFL," led by MICHAEL HARRISTON; and members of the "Pretty Boy Crew," led by CARL POLLARD.

The indictment charges that the gang typically recruited participants for the robberies in the vicinity of the Pink Houses. They entered jewelry stores armed with pistols, forced employees and customers to lie on the floor, bound their wrists, and emptied display cases of expensive jewelry. Frequently, crew members located and removed security video tapes from the stores they robbed, and in some instances pistol-whipped their victims on the head and face. Occasionally, members of the robbery crew stole firearms from the stores' security guards.

The indictment alleges that the defendants "fenced" the jewelry at various pawn shops in New York, including the Seapod Pawn Shop in East New York, which is operated by the defendant FRANK MOREA.

The charges announced today include the following robberies and acts of violence:

. On December 17, 2003, crew members robbed Tudor Jewelers in Elmont, New York. JAMEL THOMPSON, QURAN HOLLIS, KORY TURNER and MISHAEL BENYEHUDAH are charged with conspiring to commit this robbery. During the robbery, a crew member pistol-whipped an employee, leaving him unconscious.

. On January 12, 2004, crew members robbed Concord Jewelers in Rockville Centre, New York. KAREEM DAVIS, WYNETTE BELL, NAQUON ARMSTEAD, SHARIF OWENS, SEAN HIGHTOWER, DARRYL S. SINGLETON, WHETSEL WADE, and CARL POLLARD were charged with conspiring to commit this robbery. During the robbery, crew members obtained almost $900,000 in jewelry and assaulted store employees, inflicting serious injuries.

. On May 19, 2004, crew members robbed Big Jake's Jewelers in the Bronx, New York. MICHAEL HARRISTON and EARL HARRISTON are charged with conspiring to commit this robbery. In connection with this robbery, a security guard chased and shot at fleeing crew members, inadvertently wounding an innocent bystander.

. On November 12, 2003, Crew members robbed $250,000 worth of fur coats from the Cellini Uomo Clothing Store in Manhattan. LARONE GRAHAM, KAREEM DAVIS, KORY TURNER, DARRYL S. SINGLETON, and WHETSEL WADE are charged with conspiring to commit this robbery. During the robbery, crew members pistol-whipped an employee.

. Between September 16, 2004 and October 21, 2004, crew members conspired to rob $250,000 worth of jewelry from an undercover FBI agent posing as a jeweler transporting jewelry from Israel to Queens, New York. LARONE GRAHAM is charged with conspiring to commit this robbery.

. On December 25, 2004, crew members attempted to murder another crew member in Queens, New York, to prevent him from cooperating with law enforcement. The victim was shot in the back of the head and left for dead on the Van Wyck Expressway. MICHAEL HARRISTON and EARL HARRISTON are charged with attempted murder.

"This immensely successful prosecution is the result of a model of cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement," stated United States Attorney MAUSKOPF. "The defendants terrorized the retail jewelry industry throughout the New York City metropolitan region for nearly two years, and endangered not only their robbery victims but anyone in the vicinity of their violent criminal activity. Their ability to plan and execute so many brazen armed robberies was truly alarming. However, we were able to identify the pattern of robberies and those who committed them, and as a result, these defendants, including the leaders of the Pink Houses Crew, will face the maximum punishment allowed by the law."

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge McMAHON stated, "Gangs are a plague on our neighborhoods, and hardworking businessmen and women have been robbed by these violent criminals. We are serving notice to these gangs that we are taking back our streets. We will investigate you, arrest you, prosecute you and put you in jail for a very long time."

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge D'AMURO stated, "The Pink Houses Crew showed wanton disregard for the safety of the employees of the jewelry stores they targeted, and equal disregard for the safety of bystanders. Motivated by greed, they stopped at nothing to line their pockets. Now the gang from the Pink Houses will be relocated to 'the big house'." Kings County District Attorney HYNES stated, "This case is an excellent example of our commitment to working with the federal authorities and how effective we can be especially when investigations involve a gang such as the Pink Houses Crew which carried out their crimes throughout the city."

Queens County District Attorney BROWN stated, "All New Yorkers are safer today as a result of the dismantling of the Pink House Crew. I am pleased that my prosecutors were able to join with our law enforcement colleagues to connect the dots that developed the full picture of the scope of the criminal activities of the Pink Houses Crew and led to these arrests."

Nassau County Police Commissioner LAWRENCE stated, "The arrests of these violent felons who preyed upon our community business owners is another example of our vigilant and collective law enforcement agencies working cohesively together to bring justice to those individuals that choose to commit these heinous crimes."

New York City Police Commissioner KELLY stated, "The violent reign of the Pink Houses Crew was ended by excellent police work. It should give some piece of mind to the jewelers who were repeatedly targeted by this gang."

The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Lesko and Lawrence Ferazani.

Pedigree Information and Maximum Sentences:

Name: Larone Graham
Residence: 309 Lafayette Street, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 1/22/70
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Jamel Thompson
Residence: 1250 Loring Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 10/8/77
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Quran Hollis
Residence: 88 Monument Walk, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 6/30/80
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Kareem Davis
Residence: 1209 Loring Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 6/15/78
Residence Sentence: Life

Name: Kory Turner
Residence: 1257 Loring Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 11/27/79
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Wynette Bell
Residence: 96 Hull Street, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 4/25/81
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Naquon Armstead
Residence: 239 East 32nd Street, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 4/16/80
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Sharif Owens
Residence: 556 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 3/27/74
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Sean Hightower
Residence: 655 Hemlock Street, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 9/18/84
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Mishael Benyehudah
Residence: 1285 Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 5/31/79
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Darryl S. Singleton
Residence: 172-01 128th Avenue, Springfield Gardens, New York
DOB: 2/10/73
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Vencent Harriston
Residence: 1176 Fulton Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 11/7/76
Maximum Sentence: 10 Years

Name: Michael Harriston
Residence: 691 Shepard Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 9/14/75
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Earl Harriston
Residence: 2060 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Whetsel Wade
Residence: 802 Crescent Street, Brooklyn, New York
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Carl Pollard
Residence: 114-50 172nd Street, Jamaica, Queens, New York
DOB: 11/1/79
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: James Gant
Residence: 1257 Loring Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 2/20/75
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Darnell Foskey
Residence: 445 Fountain Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
DOB: 6/9/85
Maximum Sentence: Life

Name: Frank Morea
Residence: 165-45 92nd Street, Howard Beach, New York
DOB: 9/20/65
Maximum Sentence: 10 Years

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