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Press Release

Two Defendants Charged With Gunpoint Robbery Of Manhattan Jewelry Store While Impersonating NYPD Officers

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

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that ISMAEL IGARTUA, a/k/a “Ismeal John,” a/k/a “John Igartua,” and JOSE RODRIGUEZ have been arrested for their participation in an armed robbery of a jewelry store in Manhattan on Saturday, June 6, 2020. IGARTUA and RODRIGUEZ were apprehended shortly after the robbery and were presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman today.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated:  “As alleged, the defendants participated in a brazen daytime robbery, in which a victim was threatened at gunpoint and tied up.  The defendants’ alleged scheme – impersonating NYPD officers and asking to check the victim’s firearm due to recent incidents of looting – took advantage of uncertain conditions in our community, preying on the fears of a small business owner and his trust in law enforcement.  This alleged criminal conduct is intolerable, and thanks to the work of the NYPD and the FBI, the defendants face significant federal charges for their alleged crimes.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said:  “Posing as police officers to prey on a city business during an international pandemic, as alleged, is dangerous to civilians and law enforcement officers.  Arrests like these highlight the indispensable work of our NYPD detectives, and federal partners, in ensuring justice for New Yorkers.”           

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Well done to the detectives and agents who worked to solve this quickly and bring justice to a business owner in the community.  It speaks highly of the work done by the NYPD’s 19th Precinct Detective Squad and the FBI-NYPD Joint Major Theft Task Force that the only jewelry these men will wind up with are metal bracelets.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1]:

On the afternoon of June 6, 2020, IGARTUA and RODRIGUEZ robbed a jewelry store located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  While dressed as and identifying themselves as NYPD officers, IGARTUA and RODRIGUEZ asked for permission to enter the jewelry store and requested to examine the store owner’s properly permitted firearm, claiming that, due to the recent looting of commercial establishments in New York, firearms were at risk of being stolen. Once the store owner gave IGARTUA and RODRIGUEZ his firearm, the robbers, who were armed with two firearms of their own, restrained and tied up the store owner, and stole his firearm and jewelry valued at over $150,000.  IGARTUA and RODRIGUEZ were apprehended a short time later in a subway station several blocks from the jewelry store.

*                *                *

IGARTUA, 59, of Queens, New York, and JOSE RODRIGUEZ, 59, of the Bronx, New York, are each charged with one count of robbery conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of robbery, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of brandishing a firearm, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by a judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI-NYPD Joint Major Theft Task Force and the NYPD’s 19th Precinct Detective Squad.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Kaylan E. Lasky is in charge of the prosecution.

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


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated June 8, 2020

Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 20-122