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2 charged in Hempstead robbery spree

Gerard Brown, left, 26, of Roosevelt, and Nicholas

Gerard Brown, left, 26, of Roosevelt, and Nicholas McNeil, right, 26, of Hempstead, were arrested on Feb. 4, 2014, and have been charged with first-degree robbery in connection with a string of armed robberies in Hempstead dating back to September, police said. Credit: NCPD

Two Nassau County men stole more than $7,500 while committing nearly two dozen robberies since September, including multiple holdups at some stores, according to court papers.

Gerard Brown, 26, of 107 E. Fulton Ave., Roosevelt, and Nicholas McNeil, 26, of 47 Mason St., Hempstead, were each charged with 10 counts of first-degree robbery for the holdups between Sept. 23 and Monday.

Nassau County Police Robbery Squad, Third Squad detectives and Hempstead police arrested the pair on Tuesday.

Brown pleaded not guilty Thursday at his arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead.

He was ordered held without bail and is due back in court Monday in Mineola.

Brown also was charged with drug offenses, court papers show.

McNeil, who pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Wednesday in Hempstead, was held without bail.

He is due back in court Friday, also in Mineola.

Hempstead Police Chief Michael McGowan said a break in the case came when patrol officers who responded to one crime scene found "physical evidence" linking Brown and McNeil to the robberies.

McGowan declined to detail the type of evidence recovered or where it was found, citing the ongoing investigation.

But McGowan called it "a key factor" in the arrests.

"Our officers take great pride in how we handle crime scenes," he said.

At Brown's arraignment, Legal Aid attorney Peter Coleman said his client worked for a temporary employment agency and as a seasonal employee at Macy's.

"I'm just shocked, really," said Brown's mother, Lisa Barnes of Roosevelt, outside the courtroom. "He's really a decent young man."

Police said the pair committed 10 robberies in Hempstead -- including holding up the same deli on Oct. 24, Jan. 23 and on Monday, and a Sunoco gas station twice.

On Oct. 22, Brown and McNeil robbed a Dunkin' Donuts on Peninsula Boulevard together shortly after 7 p.m., police said. Each then robbed the Dunkin' Donuts one more time alone, police said.

The other holdups included Citgo and Mobil gas stations and a GameStop store, police said. In almost all of the robberies, police said, Brown and McNeil displayed a handgun or handguns. Mostly, the pair stole cash, police said. In some cases, cellphones were taken, police said.

No one was injured in the robberies, police said.


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