Local authorities in New York arrested a group of five men with suspected ties to organized crime on Tuesday in connection with two recent jewelry store heists in Manhattan.
Mob ties: The suspects, identified as Frank DiPietro, Vincent Cerchio, Vincent Spagnuolo, Michael Sellick and Samuel Sore, are believed to have ties to the Lucchese and Genovese crime families. The men reportedly made off with an estimated $2 million worth of precious gems in total, according to New York Police Department (NYPD) officials.
First robbery: In the first heist, DiPietro, Cerchio, Spagnuolo and Sellick stole several diamond pieces from Midtown Manhattan jewelry store on Madison Avenue in Midtown in January. The perpetrators entered through a deli entrance in the same building and avoided suspicion by dressing up as construction workers.
DiPietro, known as “Frankie the Fish,” reportedly brandished his firearm at an employee and demanded the jewelry. The group got away with a 73-carat necklace, a six-carat ring and a 17-carat pair of earrings.
Second heist: The group used the same modus operandi during their second robbery on May 20, this time targeting a jewelry store on Elizabeth Street in Chinatown.
After gaining entry, DiPietro and Sellick forcefully acquired the jewelry at gunpoint. Sore served as the getaway car driver, while Spagnuolo, operating a different vehicle, assisted in the escape. To further avoid detection, they used fake license plates on their cars.
The police were alerted and pursued one of the getaway vehicles. The driver abandoned the car on Montgomery Street in the Lower East Side and fled on foot.
The charges: The five defendants face multiple charges, including conspiracy, robbery and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime. Each of them could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
During the investigation, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig noted the extensive criminal records of DiPietro and Sellick. He also confirmed the individuals’ connections to the Lucchese and Genovese crime families.