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Press Release

Second Man Arrested And Charged In Manhattan Federal Court For Daytime Armed Robbery Of Diamond District Store

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James Higgins, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), and William J. Bratton, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the unsealing of a complaint charging LEON FENNER for the armed robbery of a store in the Diamond District of Manhattan on November 11, 2014. FENNER was arrested yesterday in Suitland, Maryland, and presented today in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, on November 11th Leon Fenner – armed with a semiautomatic gun – committed a cold and calculated robbery of a jewelry store in the Diamond District during which he brazenly pistol-whipped a bystander. Thanks to the collaboration of law enforcement, Fenner was tracked down and apprehended and will now face justice.”

ATF Acting Special Agent-in-Charge James Higgins said: “The arrest of Mr. Fenner yesterday has even further dismantled the illegal activities of this violent and armed robbery crew. The teamwork and relentless investigative pursuit exhibited by the newly formed ATF-led SPARTA task force coupled with a focused prosecution team is extremely gratifying to be a part of. The unit’s performance in this case should be a stark reminder to the criminal element that law enforcement, especially here in New York City, will not tolerate brazen acts of violence.”

NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “The New York City Police Department, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to track down each person responsible for this crime until all parties are in custody and held accountable.”

According to the allegations Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, it is alleged that:

On November 11, 2014, two men carried out an armed robbery of a jewelry store (the “Store”) on the 8th Floor of a building on 47th Street in the Diamond District of Manhattan. The Store is not open to the public but is a space where clients can view and purchase jewelry. At the time of the robbery, the owner of the store (the “Owner”) and three other individuals were present inside the Store. At approximately 2:20 in the afternoon – in broad daylight as the Veteran’s Day Parade proceeded nearby – LEON FENNER, the defendant, dressed in a suit, carrying a bag, and appearing to be a messenger, came to the door of the store, while a second man (“Perpetrator-2”) served as a lookout in the hallway. After entering, FENNER first said that he was there to serve the Owner of the Store with papers, and took two envelopes out of his bag before placing them on a desk. FENNER then took out a black semiautomatic gun and pointed it at the Owner and the others present and demanded that they give him all the jewelry in the Store. As the robbery was occurring, a relative of the Owner arrived and was let into the Store. FENNER pistol-whipped the Owner’s relative as he entered the Store. The Owner and the others present in the Store emptied more than $600,000 worth of jewelry from a safe and other locations and placed it into FENNER’s bag. FENNER, leaving the envelopes behind in the Store, left the scene with Perpetrator-2.

FENNER was identified based on, among other things, fingerprint analysis of the envelopes left in the Store and surveillance images.

FENNER, 58, of New York, New York, is charged with one count of armed robbery, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of brandishing of a firearm in connection with that robbery, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, with a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Rondu Frisby, a/k/a “Reef,” who was one of the individuals present in the Store at the time of the Robbery and a friend of the Owner, was arrested on November 17, 2014, and charged with conspiracy to commit the robbery, and aiding and abetting the brandishing of a firearm in connection with the robbery conspiracy. Frisby allegedly coordinated with FENNER to perpetrate the robbery.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the NYPD and the Joint Robbery Task Force, consisting of members of the NYPD, ATF, and the United States Marshals Service.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Russell Capone and Gina Castellano are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. v. Leon Fenner Complaint & Warrant (14 MAG 2572)

Updated May 15, 2015

Press Release Number: 14-352