Landscaper arrested in LI robbery spree

October 22, 2009 2:49:13 PM PDT
A Long Island landscaper is under arrest Thursday, accused of setting up some of his customers to be robbed. Police say 28-year-old Johnny Cerda, of Freeport, owned the landscape company that serviced the victims. Cerda was arrested at his home Thursday morning by ATF agents and Nassau County cops.

Cerda is accused of being behind at least 10 robberies in Merrick and Baldwin since February, some of which were carried out with extreme brutality. Police believe Cerda tipped off the members of his crew as to which homes had large quantities of cash and jewelry.

Authorities say Cerda set up at least three close friends and relatives, as well.

Seven alleged members of the robbery ring have been arrested in the last several months and face robbery and weapons charges. Most of them are reportedly undocumented immigrants.

Police say several of the crimes have been quite brutal in nature. Newsday reports that in once instance, the robbery crew threatened to rape a teenage girl. In another incident, the newspaper also says a man the robbers believed to be in the mafia was gagged with a sock and beaten severely.

An elderly woman was reportedly beaten in another of the robberies.

If convicted, Cerda faces more than 30 years in prison.

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