Formal charges filed against Lenox Jewelers robbery suspects
Federal prosecutors wasted no time finalizing charges against five men charged with kidnapping employees of Lenox Jewelers on Black Rock Turnpike and stealing $4 to $5 million in merchandise from the store in April -- a heist described by police as the largest in Fairfield's history.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy Lee Dayton and Douglas Morabito on Friday obtained a 13-count indictment charging the out-of-state group with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, conspiracy to interfere with commerce through robbery, interfering with commerce through robbery and using a firearm in a violent crime.
Charged in the case are: Timothy Forbes, 31, of Allentown, Pa., the reputed mastermind; William Davis, 25, and Jeffrey Houston, 26, also of Allentown; Kasam Hennix, 39, of Easton, Pa., and Christopher Gay, 27, of the Bronx, N.Y.
The indictment alleges that on March 29 and April 4, Forbes and Houston traveled from Pennsylvania to the Eastgate Condominiums in Meriden, where they placed a global positioning system device on a car driven by a Lenox Jewelers manager.
On April 11, the five men forced their way into the condominium used by four employees of Hannoush Jewelers, which owns Lenox Jewelers and Harstan's Jewelers in the Westfield Trumbull mall.
The intruders bound the four employees and covered their heads with pillow cases, according to prosecutors. Gay remained behind to guard two, while Davis, Forbes, Hennix and Houston forced the other two back into a car and drove them to Fairfield,.
Once they arrived at Lenox Jewelers, the two employees were ordered to open the front door and its safe, laden with expensive watches, loose diamonds and other gems, according to the indictment.
Approximately $4 to 5 million in merchandise was were stolen, and only $127,500 has been recovered, officials said. The victims were left bound in the store.
The five men were arrested May 22 after an eagle-eyed neighbor at the Eastgate Condominiums had seen the men casing the store manager's car in the early-morning hours of March 30. The neighbor wrote down their license plate and provided it to police canvassing the neighborhood following the robbery.
Police traced the license plate to a rental car agency in Pennsylvania. The agency gave police cell phone numbers written on the rental contract.
Once investigators had those cell phone numbers, Police Chief Gary MacNamara said it was only a matter of time before they started "connecting the dots."
During the arrests of the five men, authorities said they recovered $65,672 from Davis' home; $60,358 from Gay's hotel room, and another $1,604 from Houston. If convicted, the accused could face serious prison time.
The five are charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping, which carries a maximum life sentence. They also are charged with two counts each of interfering with commerce through robbery, and interference with commerce through threats and violence, and one count of conspiring to interfere with commerce, each of which carries a maximum 20-year prison term.
They are also accused of three counts of using a firearm in a crime of violence, which carries a seven-year sentence for each charge.
In addition to the charges, the prosecution is seeking forfeiture of the money and a Jeep Cherokee sport-utility vehicle, which Houston is believed to have used in the alleged crime.
All of the defendants have been detained without bond and are expected to plead not guilty to the charges. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford.