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Sentence in Balenciaga Theft

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 16:34
Durell Godfrey

Jamal Johns, one of five people who participated in a March robbery at the luxe retailer Balenciaga’s East Hampton shop, was sentenced on Friday to three and a half to five years in prison, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney has announced.

“As of today, all four of the defendants that we apprehended for this crime have pleaded guilty,” Mr. Tierney said, “and they will serve significant prison sentences for stealing items that do not belong to them.”

Mr. Johns, 26, and his accomplices made off with $94,000 worth of handbags in a brazen midday robbery. In October, he pleaded guilty to grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Three others who took part in the raid, Ali Harris, 28, Wazir Rodgers, 25, and Baseemah Davis, 34‚ have been or will be sentenced on the same charges. All are from New Jersey, according to Mr. Tierney.

Mr. Davis pleaded guilty to the same trio of charges as Mr. Johns and will be sentenced on Dec. 19. Mr. Harris will be sentenced to between three and nine years in prison on Dec. 7. Mr. Rodgers has already been given that same sentence.

The fifth member of the organized group, a woman, remains at large and has not been identified. That person entered Balenciaga at around 1:30 p.m. on March 3 wearing a “pink ski-type mask over her face, and sunglasses,” according to police accounts of the incident.

She browsed around for a while, with a cellphone to her ear, before asking a manager-clerk to check on shoes she said she was interested in. When the clerk left the retail floor to see if her size was in stock, the others “rushed into the store and hurriedly began taking luxury handbags from the shelves.”

They raced out of the shop with 48 handbags, dropping some of them as they fled, and jumped into a waiting Dodge Durango. East Hampton Village police gave chase briefly, but ended the pursuit when it potentially endangered other motorists.

A state trooper pursued the Durango on Sunrise Highway to Exit 62, where it headed north on Route 111 before merging onto the Long Island Expressway, at times breaking 100 miles an hour, police said. The occupants ditched the car with a flat tire at Exit 69 off the L.I.E., nearly 40 miles from the crime scene. 

Three people ran into the woods; the other two remained at the car. Four of them were arrested; the woman in the pink ski mask got away. Police recovered 34 stolen handbags. To date, 14 more have not been accounted for.

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