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Press Release

Armed Robbery Crew Sentenced To 32 Years Of Imprisonment

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Three Defendants Convicted At Trial Of Stealing Over $250,000 From Queens Check Cashing Stores Using Hollywood-Style Special Effects Masks



Earlier today, United States District Judge Raymond J. Dearie sentenced Edward Byam, Derrick Dunkley, and Akeem Montsalvatge each to serve 32 years of imprisonment for the violent armed robberies of two Queens check-cashing stores. Following a two-week trial that ended on August 9, 2013, the defendants were each found guilty of robbery conspiracy, two counts of robbery, and two counts of using a firearm in connection with those robberies.

The sentences were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Thomas J. Canon, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), New York.

“This armed robbery crew terrorized the hard-working employees of Queens in pursuit of a quick buck,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “They used masks and costumes to elude law enforcement, but, as they have learned today, their disguises could not shield them from justice.” Ms. Lynch thanked the ATF, the agency that led the government’s investigation, and expressed her grateful appreciation to the New York City Police Department’s Police Impersonation Unit, which assisted in the government’s investigation at all stages, and the United States Marshals Service, for its crucial assistance in apprehending these violent criminals.

The government’s evidence at trial established that the defendants committed two armed robberies of separate Pay-O-Matic check cashing stores in Queens, New York. In 2010, the three defendants stole over $40,000 from a Pay-O-Matic after one of the defendants gained entry through the roof into the secure teller area. Wearing hooded sweatshirts and cloth masks, the defendants held the victim teller at gunpoint, handcuffed him and beat him with a metal chair before making off with the stolen cash. In 2012, the defendants robbed another Pay-O-Matic check cashing store at gunpoint, while wearing New York City Police Department jackets, badges, and life-like Hollywood-style special effects masks that concealed their identities and made them appear to be three white men. During this robbery, the defendants gained entry to the secure teller area by showing one of the tellers a picture of her own home and then forced a second teller to let the defendants into the area where the safe was located. Once inside, the defendants held the tellers at gunpoint and stole over $200,000.

The government’s witnesses included the victim tellers who were held at gunpoint during the robberies, as well as the owner of the company that manufactured the life-like special effects masks used by the defendants during the 2012 robbery. The government’s evidence also included telephone and cell site records placing the defendants at the scenes of both crimes, DNA evidence, text messages among the defendants discussing how they would spend the robbery proceeds, and records showing the defendants bought thousands of dollars of luxury items from high-end luxury boutiques with the money they had stolen.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tyler Smith, Tiana Demas, and Maria Cruz Melendez.

The Defendants:


Age: 26

Queens, New York


Age: 26

Queens, New York


Age: 38

Queens, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 12-CR-586 (RJD)

Updated September 6, 2016

Firearms Offenses