Four men have been indicted for robbing a smoke shop in Ronkonkoma after ambushing a shop employee.
On September 21, 2023, at approximately 12:35 a.m., four men — Albert Diaz, 22, of Ronkonkoma; Angel Argueta, 19, of Ronkonkoma; Bassarna Malcolm, 18, of Wyandanch; and Vasco Arnault, 19, of Wyandanch — and a fifth unapprehended co-defendant allegedly ran into the Lucky 7 Smoke Shop in Ronkonkoma as the store employee was preparing to close the shop. The five men jumped over the counter, while Malcolm allegedly began stealing merchandise.
Arnault allegedly grabbed the store clerk by his neck, lifted him in the air, and threatened him. The clerk looked down and saw what appeared to be a handgun sticking out of Arnault’s sweatshirt. In fear for his life, the clerk complied. In addition to allegedly stealing merchandise, the defendants also stole an unspecified amount of cash from the register. All five then fled the smoke shop, and the clerk called 911.
A Suffolk County Police Department Highway Enforcement officer patrolling the area observed the five men flee the smoke shop and get into a car. The officer followed their’ vehicle until it pulled into a driveway on Terry Road in Ronkonkoma, where four of the men allegedly jumped out and fled in different directions. The driver did not flee. After a search of the surrounding area, three of the defendants were apprehended by law enforcement.
Diaz, Argueta, Malcolm, and Arnault were each indicted on two counts of second-degree robbery, both Class C violent felonies.
On October 5, 2023, at Malcolm’s arraignment on the indictment, County Court Judge Anthony S. Senft, Jr. ordered him held on $30,000 cash, $60,000 bond, or $300,000 partially secured bond during the pendency of the case. Malcolm is due back in court on November 1, 2023. The same day, at Arnault’s arraignment on the indictment, Senft ordered him held on $50,000 cash, $100,000 bond, or $500,000 partially secured bond during the pendency of the case. Arnault is due back in court on November 2, 2023.
On October 16, 2023, at Diaz’ arraignment on the indictment, Senft Jr., ordered him held on $30,000 cash, $60,000 bond, or $90,000 partially secured bond during the pendency of the case. Diaz is due back in court on November 15, 2023.
On October 19, 2023, at Argueta’s arraignment on the indictment, Senft ordered him held on $60,000 cash, $100,000 bond, or $600,000 partially secured bond during the pendency of the case. Argueta is due back in court on November 15, 2023.
“Those that would seek to commit retail theft and threaten clerks in the process in Suffolk County should be on notice that they will be held responsible for their conduct. Retail employees in Suffolk County should not have to fear for their safety when they are simply trying to earn a living and do their jobs,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. “Our goal is to deter criminals from even entertaining the thought of committing such crimes, by ensuring they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that we seek significant penalties for violent offenses.”