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Diamond District worker faces federal charges in daytime robbery

A Diamond District worker was hit with federal charges Tuesday, accusing him of orchestrating last week's brazen daytime robbery of a midtown firm in which more than $600,000 in luxury watches and high-end jewelry were stolen, officials said.

Rondu Frisby, 37, appeared late Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan on robbery conspiracy and weapons charges in connection with the heist at 23 W. 47th Street on Nov. 11. He was ordered detained by a magistrate-judge.

NYPD detectives picked up Frisby at his West Harlem home, where police found cocaine, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. Detectives later charged Frisby with state robbery and drug possession charges before he was hit with the federal charges.

According to the federal complaint unsealed Tuesday, Frisby was seen on surveillance videos minutes before the robbery walking near two suspects -- one identified as Leon Fenner, 58 -- who are still being sought in the case.

Frisby was in the eighth-floor store, where he knew the owner and sometimes conducted business, when a man police believe was Fenner came in posing as a messenger to ostensibly serve legal papers. Instead the fake messenger pulled out a handgun, pistol whipped a relative of the owner and fled with the jewelry, the complaint stated.

In the end, police said detective work by the Midtown North Precinct broke the case. A law enforcement official said though Frisby was an apparent robbery victim, detectives became suspicious when they had a hard time contacting him afterward. Police traced fingerprints left by the robber on an envelope in the store to an apartment in the Bronx. A review of the suspect's cellphone showed at least two dozen calls and text messages between the phone and Frisby's number, including one just before the robbery, the complaint said.

Police had little additional information Tuesday about Fenner or the still-unidentified third robbery suspect.

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