Northeast Times

Feds charge suspect in Bellagio Jewelers robbery

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The Phil­adelphia dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice last week dropped felony charges against a man sus­pec­ted in the armed rob­bery of Bel­la­gio Jew­el­ers in the North­east last year, clear­ing the way for fed­er­al pro­sec­u­tion.

Jef­fery Har­ris­on, 56, of the 3800 block of N. Dari­en St., was one of two gun­men who al­legedly burst in­to the store at 2115 Cottman Ave. on Nov. 4, bound three em­ploy­ees in a back room and made off with about $200,000 in jew­elry.

Har­ris­on also took part in sim­il­ar rob­ber­ies of Ra­dio Shack, at 39 E. City Ave. in Lower Merion, on Dec. 19; Ra­dio Shack, at 7723 Crit­tenden St., on Dec. 26; and Ra­dio Shack, 101 E. Ol­ney Ave., on Dec. 28, in­vest­ig­at­ors claim. He was charged loc­ally with the Dec. 26 and 28 heists, but the DA’s of­fice with­drew both cases just be­fore a sched­uled pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing on April 19.

Mean­while, the Phil­adelphia FBI has filed a fed­er­al com­plaint against Har­ris­on in con­nec­tion with the Nov. 4 and Dec. 26 crimes, al­leging he used a fire­arm in the rob­bery of busi­nesses en­gaged in in­ter­state com­merce. Form­al fed­er­al charges are pending.

Har­ris­on re­mains in loc­al cus­tody in lieu of $300,000 bail.

An al­leged co-con­spir­at­or in the Bel­la­gio rob­bery, Daniel Wat­son, is sched­uled for a May 18 pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing. But that loc­al case may also be with­drawn in de­fer­ence to fed­er­al charges.

Wat­son, 44, of the 5200 block of N. 16th St., has not been im­plic­ated in oth­er rob­ber­ies, al­though he has a sep­ar­ate case pending loc­ally in­volving drug pos­ses­sion, drug deal­ing and fire­arm pos­ses­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to the FBI’s af­fi­davit of prob­able cause, the Bel­la­gio Jew­el­ers man­ager re­por­ted to Phil­adelphia po­lice that the two rob­bers forced three em­ploy­ees to the rear of the store at gun­point and bound them with zip ties. One of the sus­pects dis­mantled a sur­veil­lance video re­cord­ing device, while the oth­er grabbed trays of en­gage­ment rings and brace­lets from dis­play cases and an of­fice safe.

The rob­bers fled on foot to a get­away car they had parked nearby. An off-duty city po­lice of­ficer saw the sus­pects as they entered the car and noted part of the li­cense plate num­ber. Later, an in­form­ant told po­lice de­tect­ives that Har­ris­on was re­spons­ible for the rob­ber­ies at the jew­elry store and Ra­dio Shack, the af­fi­davit said.

De­tect­ives re­covered fin­ger­prints from a jew­elry store dis­play case that al­legedly matched Har­ris­on’s known prints. Also, vic­tims in two of the Ra­dio Shack rob­ber­ies re­cog­nized Har­ris­on in a pri­or ar­rest photo shown to them by de­tect­ives.

Har­ris­on sur­rendered to de­tect­ives on Feb. 16 and ad­mit­ted to rob­bing the jew­elry store and three Ra­dio Shacks, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

A fed­er­al court hear­ing has not been sched­uled. ••

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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