A Brooklyn man has been charged with robbery and firearms crimes for allegedly robbing the owner and multiple customers of a Queens check-cashing business, stealing more than $1 million, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
37-year-old Robert “Chicho” Rodriguez appeared in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday charged in connection with the July 2020 and September 2021 robberies. Rodriguez’s co-defendant, Raymundo Heyaime Sanchez, was previously arrested and indicted for his role in one of the four robberies, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said.
According to an investigation, Rodrigues and Sanchez, 25, plotted the July 2020 robbery of the check-cashing business in advance — surveilling the victim’s home and business prior to the robbery and using burner phones to communicate with one another.
Investigators say that as the business owner drove into work the morning of the robbery, two masked perpetrators exited a dark colored minivan, each brandishing a firearm, and chased the victim’s car down the driveway of his business.
One of the perpetrators pistol-whipped the victim on the back of the head and demanded “the money” before robbing him of his car keys, his cell phone and more than $1 million intended for his check-cashing business, the lawsuit states. Another perpetrator parked a white van at the end of the driveway, blocking the victim’s vehicle should he attempt to escape.
Following the robbery, which was captured on surveillance video, the dark-colored minivan and the white van sped off in tandem. Surveillance footage also shows the white van surveilling the victim’s home and business one week before the robbery, the lawsuit says.
Just over a year later, in September 2021, federal investigators say Rodriguez began terrorizing the business’s customers in a “similarly predatory manner.”
On September 2, 2021, September 3, 2021 and September 9, 2021, Rodriguez waited in a vehicle near the near the check-cashing business until a customer exited, using a rotating supply of vehicles and license plates to evade law enforcement detection, the lawsuit states.
Rodriguez then followed each departing customer in his vehicle, ultimately robbing each victim at gunpoint.
Some of the victims were physically assaulted, with one sustaining a laceration to his head, investigators say. During the September 2021 robberies, Rodriguez allegedly stole amounts ranging from $1,500 to more than $40,000.
“As alleged in the superseding indictment, the defendant is charged with the brazen gunpoint robberies of the owner and customers of a Queens check cashing business,” said U.S. Attorney Peace.
“Such openly menacing and violent conduct will not be tolerated. This Office will vigorously prosecute criminals who allegedly commit violent crimes using guns and endanger the safety and security of our communities.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the arrest was thanks to the combined efforts of the NYPD, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“If you carry an illegal gun in New York City – and especially if you use that gun to terrorize our communities – you will be arrested and charged accordingly,” Sewell said.
If convicted of the charges, the defendants face a mandatory minimum of 84 months’ imprisonment and up to life in prison.