Miller and a co-conspirator held up at gunpoint several racetrack employees—including Morrison, who was employed as a racetrack security guard—as they were transporting more than $280,000 in cash earnings to a basement vault from the third floor.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Two criminal complaints have been unsealed in Brooklyn federal court charging two men—including an Aqueduct Racetrack security guard—for their roles in connection with the March armed robbery of more than $280,000 in cash from the South Ozone Park pony park, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
Lamel Miller, 37, and Lafayette Morrison, 37, both borough residents, have been charged with Hobbs Act robbery (actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce).
“The defendants allegedly gambled that they could pull off a high-stakes robbery with the benefit of inside information, but thanks to the outstanding efforts of ATF special agents and NYPD detectives, they ended up on the losing end of that bet,” quipped Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue.
According to court documents, at approximately 9:45 p.m. following the Gotham Day races at Aqueduct, Miller and a co-conspirator held up at gunpoint several racetrack employees—including Morrison, who was employed as a racetrack security guard—as they were transporting more than $280,000 in cash earnings to a basement vault from the third floor. Miller and the co-conspirator, wearing surgical masks, emerged from their hiding spot in a stairwell and confronted the employees at gunpoint. Miller and the co-conspirator took the employees’ cell phones and the cash, and forced the victims into a closet.
Morrison was actually an “inside man,” providing information in advance about where and when the money would be transported to the vault. Aqueduct surveillance video shows Miller and the co-conspirator, still wearing surgical masks, carrying a garbage bag and a duffel bag when they exited the racetrack office and walked toward a parking lot at approximately 10:05 p.m.
Acouple of days after the robbery, an unidentified Aqueduct employee told the New York Post that the brazen armed heist “had to be” an inside job.
“You tell me: How did they know exactly where they bring the money down? The exact route from upstairs to the vault downstairs? It had to be someone familiar with the procedure here,” the employee said.
If convicted, Miller and Morrison face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
“This alleged crew may have seen their inside job as a day at the races, but our arrests and federal complaints prove otherwise,” City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “Our partnerships, precision policing and vigilance in fighting for victims remain strong,”