Arrest Made in Manhattan Jewelry Heist


jewelry-shootingThe New York Times reports: The police have arrested a man they said had about 40 jewels that were stolen two weeks ago during a robbery and fatal shooting at a store on the Upper East Side, the authorities said on Friday.The man, Edmond Alma, 46, was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Mr. Alma, who was picked up by detectives outside his apartment in Washington Heights on Wednesday, was ordered held without bail.

Mr. Alma was not charged in the robbery or the killing, which took place Jan. 27. But Paul. J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said Mr. Alma had “not been ruled out as the shooter.”

“This arrest is a major break, a major advance in the investigation,” Mr. Browne said.

Detectives searched Mr. Alma’s fifth-floor apartment at 602 West 180th Street on Wednesday and found jewelry worth more than $1 million, including 14 rings, 7 necklaces, 14 earrings, 3 bracelets and 2 charms – some studded with diamonds and other gems, the police said.

In all, 66 pieces of jewelry were stolen from the store, R. S. Durant, by a man wearing sunglasses and a scarf over his face. The robber shot and fatally wounded a store clerk, Henry Menahem, 71, before fleeing.

Before Mr. Alma’s arrest, detectives had scoured pawn shops and known fences for the gems and had recovered a Faberge-style egg.

On Tuesday, Mr. Alma met with a law enforcement informant and gave him nine pieces of jewelry. He said that he wanted $15,000, and that the informant could keep whatever else the pieces fetched, according to court papers.

Detectives from the Manhattan North Homicide Squad and the 19th Precinct also found a bullet-resistant vest, several pairs of sunglasses and a plastic bag containing 9-millimeter bullets in Mr. Alma’s apartment, the police said.

Investigators are trying to determine if any of the items link Mr. Alma to the robbery at R. S. Durant, which is on Madison Avenue near the Whitney Museum. A law enforcement official said prosecutors had a court order allowing them to put Mr. Alma in a lineup, though they would not specify what for.

“The only thing he is charged with is having certain jewelry in his home in Washington Heights,” said Terrence J. Grifferty, a lawyer for Mr. Alma. “More importantly, the D.A. said he is a suspect in the actual shooting and robbery.” But Mr. Grifferty said that Mr. Alma “denies it is him who did it.”

{NY Times/Noam Newscenter}