Two Queens Men Charged in Armed Robbery at Aqueduct Racetrack
Racetrack Security Guard “Inside Man” Posed as a Victim During the $280,000 Heist
Two criminal complaints were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Lamel Miller and Lafayette Morrison with Hobbs Act robbery in connection with the March 7, 2020 armed robbery of over $280,000 in cash from Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens. Miller and Morrison were arrested earlier today and their initial appearances are scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John B. DeVito, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New York Field Division (ATF), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrests and charges.
According to court documents, at approximately 9:45 p.m. following the Gotham Day races at Aqueduct, Miller and a co-conspirator held up at gunpoint several racetrack employees – including Morrison who was employed as a racetrack security guard – as they were transporting more than $280,000 in cash earnings to a vault. Miller and the co-conspirator, wearing surgical masks, emerged from their hiding spot in a stairwell and confronted the employees at gunpoint. Miller and the co-conspirator took the employees’ cell phones and the cash, and forced the victims into a closet. Morrison was actually an “inside man,” providing information in advance about where and when the money would be transported to the vault. Aqueduct surveillance video shows Miller and the co-conspirator, still wearing surgical masks, carrying a garbage bag and a duffel bag when they exited the racetrack office and walked toward a parking lot at approximately 10:05 p.m.
“The defendants allegedly gambled that they could pull off a high-stakes robbery with the benefit of inside information, but thanks to the outstanding efforts of ATF Special Agents and NYPD detectives, they ended up on the losing end of that bet,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.
“Preventing violent crime and the illegal use of firearms remain the core of ATF’s mission. As alleged, Miller and Morrison conspired in a brazen armed robbery, however today, thanks to the efforts of the ATF/NYPD Joint Robbery Task Force, they were taken off the streets of this city and no longer pose a threat to public safety,” stated ATF Special Agent-in-Charge DeVito. “I would like to thank our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office for their work in prosecuting this case.”
“This alleged crew may have seen their inside job as a day at the races, but our arrests and federal complaints prove otherwise. Our partnerships, precision policing and vigilance in fighting for victims remains strong,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
The charges in the complaints are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General William Barr has enhanced PSN as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew R. Galeotti is in charge of the prosecution.
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket Nos. 20-MJ-400; 20-MJ-438