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I-Team 10 Investigation : Robbery or not

Posted at: 03/22/2013 5:17 PM
Updated at: 03/22/2013 9:25 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

New information about an armed robbery at the Gold for Cash store in Brighton that was caught on surveillance video.

I-Team 10 has obtained a signed statement from a man who claims he helped recruit one of the men in the video to pull off a staged robbery.

Attorneys for the men arrested for that robbery in June 2011 have said almost from the start that the four were recruited to stage a heist, then turned the jewelry over in return for cash. Now, as the trial date approaches, the contents of this just-released statement could change the course of this case.

Surveillance video showed the four men entered the Gold for Cash store in Brighton, held the owner and an employee at gunpoint before roughing them up and tying them up with zip ties ten clearing the merchandise from the store display cases. It was that video that helped police track down and arrest Clayton Woods, Brandon Johnson, Marquis Elliot and Brandon Douglas. But attorneys for the four men contend that the video is not what it appears.

Matthew Rich, Johnson's attorney, said, "What appears to be a violent armed robbery, in fact, by the materials we've been provided, is anything but. It was a production. It was staged."   

And a police report and supporting deposition given to the Brighton Police under penalty of perjury , just obtained by I-Team 10, appears to back up what the attorneys are saying. It's a statement from John Grandberry, of Rochester, and was just turned over to defense lawyers recently.

Rich said, “We're just concerned about why things like this written statement from Mr. Grandberry is only being revealed in the weeks before the trial basically depriving us of an opportunity to fully and fairly explore our client's defense."

In the statement, Grandberry says he was working at a pawn shop on Monroe Avenue when he says he was approached by his boss, a man named Luke Corona.
Grandberry told police that Corona "had a buddy who owned a jewelry/pawn shop and that the owner of the shop and Luke wanted to stage a robbery for insurance money."

He claims Corona asked him if he knew some guys who could do the robbery. Grandberry says he put Corona in touch with Marquis Elliot, known to him as "Keys" and Grandberry says Elliot then recruited the other three men in the video.

Immediately after the robbery, Grandberry says the men met up at his sister's house where he says the men gave Corona the jewelry and “Luke put it into a container then put it into the trunk of the car."

Michael Schiano, Elliot's attorney, said, “It's always been our position that our clients' intent was not to commit a robbery and this supports our theory at this point."

Corona has not been charged in connection with the case. Reached by phone, he told I-Team 10 he had no involvement in the Cash for Gold robbery and called Grandberry's claims outrageous before hanging up the phone.

But almost immediately after the heist, questions began arising about what really happened. In a previous news story, I-Team 10 cited a Brighton police report in which the the investigator noted that they found zip ties in the back room of the store that matched those used to bind the store owner and the employee, something he said looked "awfully coincidental."

Sal Arcidiacono owns Gold for Cash. He declined to comment about Grandberry's claims, but this is what he told I-Team 10 in September 2011.

News10NBC's Brett Davidsen said, “Did you know any of these four guys or know anyone who knows these guys?”
   
Sal Arcidiacono said in 2011, "Absolutely not. Never seen them. Never had any dealings with them."

As for Corona, these attorneys believe he holds the key to their clients' cases and would like to put him on the witness stand when the case goes to trial. But Corona has apparently left the state.

Sam Valleriani, Douglas's attorney, said, "I don't think our clients can get a fair trial without Luke Corona being present and him testifying to his involvement."

It's been almost two years since the robbery and the trial was expected to start next week. But Thursday, prosecutors and defense attorneys were behind closed doors for more than four hours talking about a possible plea deal. I-Team 10 should learn more about that on Monday when the two sides are back in court.