A Nassau County landscaper is accused of using his business to scout out homes for daytime armed robberies and burglaries.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrested Johnny Creda and accused him of sending in a group of gunmen to beat and rob customers he knew had cash and jewelry in their homes and businesses. Investigators said they are looking to see if he is the leader behind as many as seven home-invasion robberies.
ATF agents said Creda's robbery scheme began in February and continued through at least August. In a February 17 break-in, as many as 4 gunmen forced their way into the home of a Merrick man on February 17. Police said they gagged the victim with socks, put a pillow case over his head and beat him until he said where his valuables were kept.
Prosecutors said another hold-up took place on May 5 in Baldwin. Several people were tied up in the home including an elderly woman who was badly beaten. She suffered a concussion and bruises.
According to court papers, three juveniles were caught for participating in the robberies. Prosecutors said the gunmen fingered Creda as their boss. "That's the lawn cutter who give us our jobs (robberies)" one of the suspects is quoted as saying in court papers.
Creda is facing federal criminal charges and is expected to be arraigned in federal court in Central Islip Thursday afternoon. Prosecutors said customers were not the only victims of home invasion robberies. They said they are looking into whether Creda also orchestrated robberies of friends, even several relatives.