Crime and Courts

Robbery Charge Reduced Under New Manhattan DA's Reform Policies: Sources

Investigators say another armed robbery case in Manhattan has been reduced to a charge of shoplifting by the new Manhattan district attorney.

Investigators say this time it was a suspect who wielded a pocketknife while stealing about $2,000 worth of cold medicine from a Duane Reade along Delancey Street in Lower Manhattan over the weekend. Video from inside the store shows the manager who was allegedly threatened by the suspect.

Police arrested 43-year-old William Rolon, saying it was the second time he hit the store — and his 39th arrest overall. But instead of charging Rolon with robbery, sources said prosecutors dropped the charges to petit larceny – a misdemeanor – even though the manager told police she was terrified.

Court transcripts obtained by News reveal the judge overseeing the case questioned the facts of the complaint, saying they appeared to make out a robbery in the first degree. According to the transcripts, the judge went on to confirm with prosecutors that two weeks ago, the case would have been charged as a robbery, but that they have opted to charge the case as a misdemeanor based on the new district attorney’s memorandum.

“That’s correct, Your Honor,” ADA Jacqueline Scher responded.

It comes after another robbery, at a TJ Maxx along Sixth Avenue and West 18th Street on Jan. 7, in which prosecutors dropped the charges against the suspect — who was allegedly threatened workers with scissors — to a shoplifting-type misdemeanor charge.

The newly elected district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has told his prosecutors they should seek to reduce charges and seek diversion and treatment programs in many cases where no one is injured. Bragg met with the police commissioner today to discuss their different views on crime, deterrence and fairness.

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