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Cops: Pair arrested in string of gas station robberies in Suffolk County

Jhan Carlos Fernandez Espinal, left, and Marta Rafalko

Jhan Carlos Fernandez Espinal, left, and Marta Rafalko were arrested in connection with a string of gas station robberies, Suffolk County police said. Credit: SCPD

Two people were arrested Wednesday in a monthlong robbery spree at gas stations along the South Shore of western Suffolk County, Suffolk police said.

Jhan Carlos Fernandez Espinal committed eight gas station robberies, seven at gunpoint, police said. Marta Rafalko joined him in four of those robberies, they said.

The pair face arraignment Thursday in First District Court in Central Islip. They were arrested by Major Case Section detectives Wednesday at about 3 p.m. as they sat in a parked car at the Ultra Gas station on West Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst, police said.

Fernandez Espinal, 18, of 44th Street, Copiague, is charged with seven counts of first-degree robbery and one count of third-degree robbery, while Rafalko, 20, of 11th Street, West Babylon, is charged with four counts of first-degree robbery. It was not clear if either was represented by counsel.

Police said that beginning on Oct. 2, Fernandez Espinal targeted gas stations in Lindenhurst, North Babylon, West Islip, Deer Park and West Babylon, with Rafalko joining him for four of those robberies. One of the stations, the USA Gasoline station in Lindenhurst, was robbed twice.

Police said the robberies took place at:

  • USA Gasoline, 188 North Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst, Oct. 2 at 9:55 p.m.;
  • BP, 1235 Route 231, Deer Park Ave., North Babylon, Oct. 5 at 12:10 a.m.;
  • Shell, 958 Montauk Hwy., West Islip, Oct. 5 at 2:25 a.m.;
  • Valero, 355 Bay Shore Rd., Deer Park, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m.;
  • USA Gasoline, 188 North Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst, Oct. 28 at 7:37 p.m.;
  • Exxon, 570 Sunrise Hwy., West Islip, Oct. 28 at 11:30 p.m.;
  • Gulf, 86 Sunrise Hwy., Lindenhurst, Nov. 1 at 11:15 a.m.;
  • OK Petroleum, 569 Rte. 109, West Babylon, Wednesday at 12:53 p.m.

Police said Fernandez Espinal did not show a gun during the Oct. 5 robbery at the BP station. They said Rafalko was charged for her involvement in the two robberies on Oct. 28, as well as the robberies on Nov. 1 and Wednesday.

Police said detectives do not believe the pair planned to rob the Ultra Gas station in Lindenhurst, where they were arrested Wednesday.

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