Kings Park ex-con charged in multiple bank robberies

Brian Blackford, 40, of Kings Park, is led out of the First Precinct in West Babylon Tuesday morning, June 10, 2014, to face arraignment on charges in connection with as many as seven bank robberies over a two-week period, Suffolk police said.

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A Kings Park ex-con charged with robbing seven Suffolk banking institutions in just over two weeks held them up to pay for crack cocaine, according to court records released Tuesday.

Brian Blackford, 40, was arraigned Tuesday in First District Court in Central Islip. Judge G. Ann Spelman set his bail at $25,000 cash or $75,000 bond on each count.

Fitzalla Coward, 51, of Brentwood, who police said drove the getaway vehicle when police stopped both men Monday after a Nesconset bank robbery, was also arrested.

Blackford was released on parole in January after serving nearly 12 years in prison for robbery, according to court records.

Police said it was Blackford who was caught on several bank video cameras during the recent robberies. In the videos, the robber's face is seen clearly without a disguise and, like Blackford, has a shaved head.

Suffolk police said between May 24 and Monday, he walked into banks in Deer Park, Commack, Sayville, North Lindenhurst, East Farmingdale and Nesconset, as well as the Bethpage Federal Credit Union in Farmingdale, and handed tellers a note demanding cash. Police said he made off with nearly $40,000.

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Blackford's court-appointed attorney Stephen A. Brown said his client "maintains his innocence."

Coward, charged in the Nesconset robbery, was held on $50,000 cash or $150,000 bond.

Both men are due back in court on Friday.

Blackford's left eye was swollen shut and he had a bruise above it when he appeared before Spelman Tuesday, wearing a white undershirt and jeans.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said Blackford did not resist arrest and sustained the wound "in an altercation that occurred in Brooklyn earlier in the week."

According to court records, Blackford said he robbed his first bank, a Capital One branch in Deer Park, on May 24.

"I walked out of the motel and decided to rob the bank across the street," according to a Suffolk police interview with Blackford.

He robbed a Bank of America at 41 Veterans Hwy. in Commack three days later, according to court records.

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On May 29, he robbed the Bethpage Federal Credit Union, 1033 Route 109 in Farmingdale, he said. He robbed an East Farmingdale Capital One, 375 Commack Rd., on June 2. The next day, he robbed a Sayville TD Bank at 188 Main St. And two days later, a Citibank, at 120 E. Sunrise Hwy., in North Lindenhurst.

Suffolk police stopped him in Dix Hills when authorities broadcast his description and the description of his car.

According to court records, Blackford told police he did the Farmingdale holdup because he "needed money for crack so I took a cab to the credit union and robbed it."

With Gary Dymski

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