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Two Alleged Masked Gunmen Plead Not Guilty

The men are believed to be behind the rash of masked, armed robberies in Riverhead and the North Fork in recent weeks, police said.

Two of the three defendants charged with the armed robbery of a Riverside gas station on Halloween pleaded not guilty to a three-count indictment on Wednesday in Suffolk County Court.

According to a release issued by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota Wednesday, Erick Darden, 19, and Arnell Nash, 21, both of Riverhead, pleaded not guilty to one charge of robbery in the first degree, one charge of robbery in the third degree and one count of petty larceny.

The third suspect, Larry Moore, 17, will be arraigned on Dec. 14.

Police said the trio is believed to be responsible for not less than four armed robberies between October 20 and Nov. 19, including the robberies at the BP Station in Mattituck and Barth’s Pharmacy in Riverhead. A fourth armed robbery at the Spirit Halloween store in Riverhead has also been under investigation.

The release indicated that Darden is incarcerated in lieu of $40,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond; Nash is being held in lieu of $25,000 cash or $100,000 bond.

Spota's office said the joint efforts of the Southampton Town Police Department, the Riverhead Police Department, the Southold Police Department, the Suffolk County Police Department and the Suffolk County District Attorney's East End Drug Task Force were fundamental to the successful apprehension of the suspects.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the search for the gun allegedly used in the heists continued.

Southampton Police Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa set up operations on the bank of the Peconic River, near McDonald's in Riverside, on Wednesday morning, along with members of the Riverhead Police dive unit, the Southampton Bay constable, the Suffolk County Sherriff's Department, and the Suffolk County Police dive team.

Costa said despite the search, nothing believed to be related to the crimes has yet been recovered.

Riverhead police said Lt. David Lessard was organizing the Riverhead dive team at the scene.

A similar search was held last week, when police converged upon the Peconic to search for a weapon.

Southampton Town detectives arrested the three Riverhead residents last week in connection with the Valero Gas Station robbery last week and charged them with robbery in the first degree, a felony.

On Halloween night, at 8:37 p.m., Southampton Town Police, Riverhead K-9 units, a Suffolk County Sherriff K-9 unit, and New York State Troopers responded to a robbery in progress occurring at the Valero Gas Station & Convenience Store on Route 24 in Riverside.

Police said three men dressed in dark clothing, wearing masks, and displaying guns entered the convenience store, hit the clerk several times, and then stole approximately $270 in cash from the register.  

The subjects fled the scene before the police arrived.

On Oct. 20 at 9:30 p.m., two masked men armed with handguns robbed the Spirit Halloween Store on Route 58; on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m., three masked men robbed Barth's Pharmacy in Riverhead; and on Nov. 19, three masked gunmen robbed a Mattituck gas station.

Riverhead police said they were investigating a connection between all the robberies.

Last Wednesday, the Southampton Town Police dive team spent several hours in the murky waters of the Peconic River near the traffic circle in Riverhead looking for crime evidence and, possibly, an involved weapon, with no success.  

Police said further attempts will be made in the upcoming days to recover the items. 

 

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