Black Robbers Used $2,000 White Masks to Fool Victims in $200,000 ‘Town’-Style Stickup, Prosecutors Say
Selim Algar, New York Post, July 31, 2013
Somebody deserves an Oscar for special effects.
A crafty trio of black robbers bought amazingly lifelike disguises from a Hollywood special-effects firm to transform themselves into white guys for a brazen Queens heist — and their get-ups were so good, their victims had no clue they were in masks.
The Brooklyn federal court trial of Akeem Monsalvatge, Derrick Dunkley and Edward Byam opened yesterday with witnesses describing how they were completely fooled.
The perps spent two painstaking months plotting their $200,000 stickup of a Queens check-cashing store last year — and theorized that switching races would help them avoid detection, authorities said.
So the crew turned to well-known special-effects company CFX Composite Effects — which has worked on flicks including “2 Guns” and “Wolverine’’ — for their disguises, prosecutors said.
The men allegedly told company reps they needed the masks for a music video, and plunked down $2,000 for three masks.
The accused crooks were apparently inspired by the 2010 Ben Affleck flick “The Town.”
As in the movie, in addition to donning masks, the robbers dressed as cops, doused the crime scene with bleach to destroy DNA traces, and provided evidence to a victim to prove they knew where she lived in case she squealed.
Intending to appear as white cops, the Queens perps wore the NYPD clothing and badges as they pulled up to a Pay-O-Matic in Queens in February 2012 in a Ford Explorer, Cruz-Melendez said.
The major break in the case came after police discovered an e-mail from Byam to CFX offering a hearty endorsement after the robbery, according to police.
“I’m sending you this message to say I’m extremely pleased by CFX work on the mask,” he allegedly wrote.
“The realism of the mask is unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, the crooks began blowing their $200,000 windfall on pricey Gucci and Louis Vuitton threads, authorities said. One member of the crew even forked over $11,000 for Rolex watch.