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Seven face charges in Pa. armed robberies

January 04, 2007|by DON AINES

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Seven people were in jail on bails of $1 million to $2 million each after being charged in connection with two armed robberies in Fulton County.

Ferdy Machado-Morales, 23, his brother Ferdinand Machado-Morales, 21, Andres DeJesus, 29, Cesar Ruiz, 20, all of 13866 Carper Road, Mercersburg, Pa.; Tyler Christman, 18, of 9851 Fort Loudon Road, Mercersburg; and Courtney Mellott, 20, and Pedro Barrientos, 21, both of 637 Lincoln Way East, McConnellsburg, each were charged with robbery, criminal conspiracy, theft and three counts each of simple assault and terroristic threats in the Tuesday morning robbery of the F&M Trust Co. branch at 7781 Waterfall Road in Dublin Township, police said.

The Machado-Morales brothers, Ruiz and Christman also were charged with robbery, criminal conspiracy, theft and three counts each of recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats and simple assault for a Saturday night robbery at the Sheetz at 720 Lincoln Way East in McConnellsburg, Trooper John Lupey said.

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Bail for the Machado-Morales brothers, Ruiz and Christman was $2 million each, according to Franklin County Prison records. Bail for Mellott, Barrientos and DeJesus was $1 million each, according to the prison.

Barrientos had been in the county prison from August to October on robbery, simple assault and theft charges, but was released pending trial when his bail was lowered, a prison official said.

The seven, traveling in a blue Toyota Corolla and a blue Hyundai Tiburon, were stopped while traveling east on U.S. 30 within five minutes of the 11:18 a.m. bank robbery, Trooper Matthew Gordon said.

"We just basically flooded the south and the north to try and quarantine them," Gordon said of the arrests. After the bank robbery alarm came in, 10 troopers either at the McConnellsburg barracks or on patrol went to the area to cover possible escape routes, he said.

Inside the vehicles, police found a pellet gun and an assault rifle that matched what was used by the robbers and all $13,489.99 stolen from the bank, police said.

The affidavit of probable cause stated that Christman drove one vehicle to the bank where Ruiz, DeJesus and the Machado-Morales brothers entered the bank and ordered the three tellers to empty the cash drawers. Mellott and Barrientos parked near the bank and acted as lookouts, Gordon said.

After leaving the bank, the vehicles were driven south on Pa. 655 near Mill Road, where police said two of the men got out of the Toyota that Christman was driving and into the Hyundai driven by Mellott.

Police had descriptions of the two vehicles and took all seven people into custody without incident when they were stopped, Gordon said. Fulton County Sheriff James Pittman and a deputy provided backup for state police while the seven were taken into custody, Gordon said.

On Saturday at 10:50 p.m., the Machado-Morales brothers, Ruiz and Christman allegedly held up the Sheetz store, stealing $1,398.62 and three cartons of cigarettes, Gordon said. Ferdy Machado-Morales pointed the assault rifle at the customer and two employees, Ferdinand Machado-Morales had the silver pellet gun and Ruiz jumped over the counter to take the cash and cigarettes, police said.

Christman drove the getaway car in that holdup, as well, police said.

Fulton County District Attorney Dwight Harvey said the suspects could face five to 20 years in prison if convicted on the first-degree felony robbery charges.

Preliminary hearings for the seven are scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8, in Fulton County Central Court, Harvey said.

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