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Levittown man, no innocent bystander, convicted in robbery

A Levittown man who pretended to be a witness to a jewelry store robbery in June 2008 has been convicted of taking part in the crime himself by helping the robber get into the store, the Nassau County district attorney's office said Thursday.

Michael Dellaera, 21, faces a maximum of 5 to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced March 11, prosecutors said.

When a man in a hooded sweatshirt entered Lee Oriental Jewelry in East Meadow on June 26, 2008, he put Dellaera in a headlock and demanded money from the register, prosecutors said.

But that was a contrived stunt by the partners in crime. When investigators later looked at surveillance video, they saw Dellaera, who had sold jewelry at the Hempstead Turnpike store before, hold the door with his foot so the robber, Jamie Ramirez, 21, of Levittown, could enter.

Police later learned that the two men had spent the earlier part of the day together smoking marijuana and using heroin before returning to Ramirez' home, District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. They decided to rob Lee Oriental Jewelry to get more money for drugs, she said.

On Wednesday afternoon, a Nassau jury convicted Dellaera of second- and third-degree robbery and petty larceny.

Ramirez was arrested the day of the robbery and pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted robbery. He testified against Dellaera and is serving a 2-year prison sentence.

Dellaera's lawyer, Stephen Kunken of Commack, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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