HUNTINGTON STATION, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police on Tuesday were hoping the arrests of three robbery suspects will end a reign of terror on Long Island.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, two men and a woman are accused in more than a dozen knifepoint robberies across Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Shane Cashmore, 30 – formerly of Ronkonkoma, now homeless – was arrested in connection with ten robberies in Nassau and eight robberies in Suffolk since February – mostly targeting ice cream and sandwich shops.
Among the incidents in which he was charged was the most recent robbery of a Carvel in Huntington Station Monday night, police said Tuesday.
“We have no doubt Cashmore was responsible for all 18 and we’re glad to see the spree come to an end,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said.
As he left court, reporters asked Cashmore if his motivation was for drugs.
“Of course… I’m a heroin addict,” he said.
When asked what he would say to the victims, Cashmore said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Key to solving the case was a distinct and rare sports car – a 2006 Hyundai Tiburon – which was spotted by witnesses.
“There’s only 200 cars of this model registered in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk County,” said Acting Nassau County police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. “We followed this car every morning when they got up and they went to scrap cans in order to support their heroin habit. We monitored that car and we surveilled that car up until last night.”
Meanwhile, two alleged accomplices — 31-year-old Juliana Pantaleone and 26-year-old Paul Drab — were also arrested. Police said they were with Cashmore Monday night and have been charged in that hold-up, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
“Upon exit, Nassau County detectives arrested the suspect simultaneously then arrested two people in the car,” acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.
Cashmore is accused of using a knife or machete in the robberies at stores such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, Carvel and TCBY.
No one was hurt in the robberies, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
“These arrests are the result of excellent collaboration between the Suffolk and Nassau County Police Departments,” Sini said.
Police said Cashmore, who is Pantaleone’s boyfriend, would often use her vehicle.
“Juliana Pantaleone is the registered owner of the car. Shane was the one that frequently operated the car,” Krumpter said.
Following his arraignment, at which he pleaded not guilty, Cashmore was held on $1.6 million bond.
“In all of the paperwork I’ve seen today, nobody identifies my client as the perpetrator,” said Cashmore’s defense attorney, Christopher Gioe.
But Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney James Chalifoux said: “At the time he was arrested last night, obviously, he was wearing the same clothes. He had just exited the store. He had on his person the knife that he had used.”
Several store managers said Tuesday that they were relieved at the arrests.
Ari Christatos, who runs a coffee shop in the same strip mall as the ice cream store in Huntington Station, said the spree had everyone on edge.
“We all was concerned, absolutely, because you never know what they having planned,” he told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “But thank God it’s over.”
The managers said they were at the mercy of desperate heroin addicts.
“Of note, at the time of the arrests, Juliana Pantelone was getting ready to inject heroin,” Krumpter said.
Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of Family and Children’s Services noted that the heroin epidemic continues to spiral out of hand.
“We are seeing now the collateral damage with an epidemic that’s gone unchecked that now simply visiting a store can put your life at risk,” Reynolds said. “It really speaks to not only the law enforcement piece, but making sure that folks who are using that much heroin and are that heavily addicted are getting the help that they need.”
CBS2’s McLogan has learned that Pantaleone is three months pregnant. Prosecutors claim she handed the machete to Cashmore just before he entered the Carvel in the most recent robbery.
Pantaleone works at a grocery market, Drab is a former dog groomer, and Cashmere is unemployed. The three suspects have had minor drug arrests in the past.
The defendants each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.