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Rochester

March 20, 2013

Police nab men suspected in armed robbery last fall

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

Police have arrested three men who allegedly tied up an employee of Antiques by Pamela and held her at gunpoint while they stole jewelry from the store last fall.

Johnny Hall, 32, of Troy, and Kevin Papuga, 22, of White Lake Township, have been charged with armed robbery and could face life in prison. Papuga turned himself in upon notice of the charges. He was arraigned in 52-3 District Court March 4, and his bond was set at $25,000, or 10 percent. He has posted bond and has been released. Hall was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshalls Service. He was arraigned in 52-3 District Court March 18, and his bond was set at $150,000. He was lodged in the Oakland County Jail.

The third man, whose name has not been released, cooperated with officers and is being charged with an unrelated narcotics crime in Macomb County.

The crime

At approximately 11:08 a.m. Nov. 2, Rochester police were called to Antiques by Pamela — 319 S. Main St. — to investigate an armed robbery.

According to Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm, the victim said three white male suspects entered the store at 10:45 a.m. — two from the front entrance and one from the back. All were wearing sunglasses, hats, jackets and gray hooded sweatshirts with the hoods up to cover their faces.

Schettenhelm said the men confronted the victim, who was the sole employee in the shop at the time, with a gun.

“They took her down to the ground and bound her hands and legs, and one of them took a large quantity of jewelry from two display cases,” he said.

Then, according to a surveillance video, the suspects appeared to have walked out the front door of the store and headed south on the west side of Main Street.

After the men left the store, the victim — who was not injured — was able to free her legs and make her way to the front door, where she yelled for help. A passerby heard her, immediately called police and helped free her hands.

“About 20 minutes elapsed between the time they entered and time she was able to get to the front door,” Schettenhelm said.

The investigation

Following the robbery, police sent an email to the businesses downtown with information about the crime. Schettenhelm said in a statement that the owner and a manager at the Chicken Shack notified police that the three men had been in their business just prior to the crime. They were also able to provide information that led to the name of one of those individuals, he said.

Rochester detectives Frank Moon and Merlin Taylor used the limited information given to them to identify the three men involved in the robbery as the same individuals who had been in the Chicken Shack, police said.

Police were able to trace the stolen jewelry to a location in Novi. Approxiamtely 17 pieces have been recovered, according to Schettehelm, who said the remaining jewelry was sold or melted down and could not be located.

Schettenhelm thanked the employees at Chicken Shack, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, the Troy Police Department, the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Oakland County Sherriff’s Office Fugitive Apprehension Team, the U.S. Marshall’s Service and the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Sherriff’s Office for their assistance during the “very intense and complex” investigation.

Papuga’s attorney, Stanley T. Dobry, declined to comment on the case, and an attorney for Hall could not be reached at press time.