Third Robber Sentenced

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SNOW HILL — The third of four suspects indicted by a Worcester grand jury for their roles in last summer’s armed hold-up of a Route 50 convenience store pleaded guilty last week to first-degree burglary and was sentenced to 20 years in jail, 10 years of which were then suspended.

Last Friday, Payne Stewart Prasnikar, 21, of Stillwater, Pa., pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary for his role in the Aug. 3 hold-up of the Raceway Citgo store on Route 50 near Route 589 and was subsequently sentenced. Prasnikar’s plea came on the heels of similar pleas made by two of co-defendants earlier last week. Charles Richard Conden III, 19, of Edwardsville, Pa., also pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to 20 years in jail with 10 suspended, while Antonio Suarez, 18, of Allentown, Pa., pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to 15 years with all but four suspended. A fourth suspect, Sarah Gryskevicz, 19, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., is scheduled to appear for trial in December.

Around 5 p.m. on Aug. 3, Ocean City Police were monitoring the Maryland State Police radio frequency when a call went out for a reported armed robbery at the Raceway Citgo store. The suspects fled the scene in a blue Chevrolet with Pennsylvania tags and headed east on Route 50 toward Ocean City.

A vehicle description was broadcast to all officers in the area and the vehicle was soon located heading north on Coastal Highway in the area of 77th Street. OCPD officers attempted to stop the vehicle at 80th Street to no avail. During the subsequent pursuit, the vehicle reached speeds in excess of 80 mph on a crowded Coastal Highway in prime time in August.

Conden got out of the vehicle at around 100th Street and fled on foot. Meanwhile, the blue Chevrolet continued north on Coastal Highway at a high rate of speed before crashing into another vehicle while attempting to turn right. The four suspects involved in the pursuit fled on foot, but were apprehended moments later by OCPD officers and bystanders. No injuries were reported at the armed robbery at the Citgo store, but one of the suspects reportedly fired a shot after leaving the store with an undisclosed amount of money.

While Gryskevicz, Suarez and Prasnikar were apprehended shortly after the crash on Coastal Highway, Conden was not caught immediately and his description was broadcast calling him likely armed and dangerous. Around 8:30 a.m. the following Tuesday, Pennsylvania State Police apprehended Conden in the area of Kingston, Pa. after the two-day crime spree that began in Pennsylvania and ended in the Ocean City area, including the armed robbery at the Raceway Citgo.

Prior to the armed robbery on Route 50, around 2 a.m. on Aug. 3, Conden and another suspect shot out the door of a multi-million dollar estate owned by a prominent businessman in Lehman Township in Pennsylvania in an armed home invasion. According to a Pennsylvania State Police press release, Conden and the other suspect entered the residence, but fled after about five minutes when the estate’s burglar alarm triggered. A 90-year-old woman at home at the time barricaded herself in a closet, but no injuries were reported.

After that early morning incident, Conden and the other suspects headed to the Ocean City area and carried out the armed robbery at the Route 50 convenience store. During the initial investigation, it was learned the vehicle was stolen during a robbery in Pennsylvania prior to the armed home invasion and the armed robbery in the Ocean City area.

First-Degree Assault Arrest

BERLIN — A Berlin man was arrested last week after allegedly assaulting another man and causing a serious brain injury.

Last Friday, Berlin Police responded to a residence on Bay Street for a reported assault. The investigation revealed a suspect, later identified as Ruben Ferreyra Palacios, 32, of Berlin, had assaulted another man and fled the scene. The victim was transported to PRMC in Salisbury where he was treated for a serious brain injury.

An arrest warrant was obtained for Ferreyra-Palacios and he was located a short time later at his residence and was taken into custody. Ferreyra-Palacios was charged with first- and second-degree assault. He was later held at the Worcester County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

Teen Takes Joy Ride

SALISBURY — A Berlin 14-year-old was charged with speeding and driving without a license in Salisbury last weekend after allegedly taking his mother’s car without her permission.

Around 3 a.m. on Sunday, a Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped a 2012 Chevy sedan on westbound Route 50 near Hobbs Rd. after clocking the vehicle going 86 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. The deputy was surprised to discover the driver was a 14-year-old male juvenile from Berlin who was behind the wheel and alone in the vehicle.

The juvenile admitted taking the vehicle without his mother’s permission. The teen was charged with speeding and driving without a license through the Department of Juvenile Services.

Sentence For 8th DUI

SALISBURY — A Berlin man arrested on drunk driving charges for the eighth time in June after running a red light and causing an accident on Route 50 near Salisbury was found guilty last week and was sentenced to three years in jail, of which one year was suspended.

Around 3 a.m. on June 17, Maryland State Police troopers responded to a reported motor vehicle accident involving injuries in the area of Route 50 and Walston Switch Rd. The investigation revealed the victim and her four passengers were stopped at a red light on eastbound Route 50 when a 2002 Ford Explorer, driven by James Nibblett, 47, of Berlin, failed to stop and struck the victim’s vehicle from behind.

The victims suffered various minor injuries, but refused medical treatment and none were transported to the hospital. Meanwhile, troopers suspected Nibblett was under the influence and he was arrested after failing field sobriety tests.

For Nibblett, it was his eighth arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol charges including two still pending in Wicomico County. He has also been arrested several times in Worcester County in and around Ocean City and West Ocean City over the years on drunk-driving related charges.

For his previous and pending arrests, Nibblett was required to have an ignition interlock device on his vehicle, but there was not such device on the Ford Explorer he was driving at the time of the accident in June. Last week, Nibblett pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of jail, of which one year was suspended netting a two-year sentence.

Guilty Plea In Robbery

SNOW HILL — Two of the four suspects arrested in June after Ocean City police witnessed an assault and a robbery taking place in the downtown area pleaded guilty to robbery last week in Circuit Court and each was sentenced to 18 months in jail, all but one month of which was suspended.

Around 12:30 a.m. on June 19, OCPD officers on bicycle patrol in the area of 1st Street and Philadelphia Ave. witnessed four suspects including a juvenile involved in a robbery and assault. The four suspects, including Vaughn Jones, 19, Averee Robinson, 18, Larry Rascoe, 18, and a juvenile, all from Harrisburg, Pa., fled the area when they saw the OCPD officers approaching the scene.

After a brief pursuit, each of the suspects were located and placed under arrest for robbery, second-degree assault, theft and disorderly conduct. Last week, Robinson and Jones each pleaded guilty to robbery and each was sentenced to 18 months in jail with all but one month suspended. Each was placed on probation for three years upon release. A third suspect, Rascoe is scheduled to appear for trial in January, while the juvenile’s case is being handled by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

K-9 “Tacko” Retired

OCEAN CITY — Last week, the Ocean City Police Department officially retired veteran police K-9, “Tacko” after almost eight years of service.
Tacko was born in August 2001 in Czech Republic and came to the U.S. via Tarheel Canine, located in North Carolina. In early 2005, Tacko was partnered with Pfc. Flower and both attended 10 weeks of basic police K-9 training. After completion in the spring of 2005, Flower and his new partner served the citizens and visitors of Ocean City for eight summer seasons. 

Tacko was certified eight times by the North American Police Working Dog Association (NAPWDA) and the National Law Enforcement Canine Organization (NLECO). During his distinguished police career with the OCPD, Tacko has had over 1,500 deployments, including building and vehicle searches, searches for suspects as well as open field searches for evidence resulting in the detection and recovery of illegal contraband and the arrests of hundreds of suspects. In addition, Tacko has assisted other Maryland law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Customs Service with drug interdiction and detection. 

“Tacko retires with distinction and honor,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino. “The OCPD relies heavily on our K-9 partners to do what no other police resource can do. They are invaluable assets in fighting crime. Tacko will be missed by officers and citizens alike.”

Tacko will remain with Flower and his family.

“I really believe he put a smile on everyone’s face that he encountered,” said Flower. “Tacko attended numerous shift roll-calls and greeted every officer he could. He worked so hard for so many officers.  He was the best partner and officer could ever hope to have.”

Flower is now in the process of selecting and training a new K-9 partner.

“Tacko will have a well-deserved life of leisure,” he said. “He will settle into a hum-drum quiet suburban life far away from his busy police K-9 duties, it has been a privileged to have been blessed with such a great K-9 partner and friend.”

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