September 29, 1999


FLUSHING PAYROLL ROBBER CONVICTED; TWO OTHERS AWAIT TRIAL ON ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGES

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced today the conviction of a 26 year old man on robbery charges stemming from his role in the ambush robbery of an off-duty New York City Police Detective and a retired Police Officer delivering a payroll to a Flushing business in May of 1997.

District Attorney Brown said, "This was as brazen and as violent a robbery as I have ever seen. Off duty Detective Arthur Pettus and retired Police Officer Joseph Bellone were ambushed as they were making a payroll delivery. Officer Bellone was shot a dozen times and Det. Pettus was shot as many as six times by the gunmen. It is a miracle they survived."

District Attorney Brown identified the defendant as Bernard Johnson, 35, of 2766 University Avenue, Bronx, N.Y. He was convicted last night after a two-week jury trial held before Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Demakos of two counts of Robbery in the First Degree, three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and one count of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree. The jury found him not guilty of attempted murder charges. Justice Demakos will impose sentence on October 21, 1999, at which time the defendant faces determinate sentences of up to 25 years on each robbery charge.

According to the testimony at trial, on the morning of May 9, 1997, the two police officers were working for a private security firm and were delivering almost $80,000 in payroll monies to Positive Promotions, a printing firm located at 168th Street and Station Road in Flushing, when they were attacked and robbed. It was testified that as the officers pulled up to the location in their armored vehicle, the defendants were laying in wait in a van parked on Station Road and that they confronted the officers and began firing. The defendants grabbed a bag containing the cash and fled, leaving the two officers seriously wounded on the sidewalk. The defendant Johnson was arrested on May 21. The other defendants Aaron Boone, 28, of 53-18 Junction Boulevard and Robert Majors, 33, of 155-01 90th Avenue were arrested the day after the crime occurred.

Assistant District Attorney James Evangelou of the District Attorney's Career Criminal Major Crimes Bureau which is under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Charles A. Testagrossa and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney James C. Quinn is in charge of the prosecution.