3 Charged In Robberies Exceeding $300,000

November 17, 2009|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

Three men have been charged in federal criminal complaints with a series of brazen Maryland robberies that netted more than $300,000 in illegal proceeds and left one business owner dying of head injuries while he was zip-tied and duct-taped to a chair.

The men - Antwone Bell, 25, of Rosedale; Nikolaos Mamalis, 53, of Edgewood; and Daniel Chase, 64, of Brownsville, N.J. - are being held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday in Baltimore U.S. District Court. Each was arrested on a single charge of conspiring to commit robbery, though more charges could result if the trio are later indicted. The investigation is continuing, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office said.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the complaints, investigators claim Mamalis knew the victims and masterminded the robberies, while Chase was the one who got them inside by impersonating law enforcement. Once inside, Bell allegedly joined the other two, helping to tie up the occupants and steal cash and jewelry on at least three occasions in July and September.

The alleged scheme came apart Nov. 6, when investigators said they learned through a wiretap, issued by Baltimore City Circuit Court, that the men planned to commit a home invasion in New Jersey. They were followed and arrested in Atlantic City two days later.

Officers said they found a stash of robbery tools in Chase's car, which was parked at the Trump Plaza there, including Mace, handcuffs, rubber gloves, money bags, rope, a knife, a badge identifying Chase as "John Peters" from the "Office of the Attorney General, Major Crimes Division," and a loaded .38-caliber revolver.

A public defender assigned to represent Chase declined to comment Monday, and the other two defendants had yet to be assigned lawyers. Bell admitted to the robberies, according to court records.

Their arrests may offer insight into the death of Constantine "Dino" Frank.

The 54-year-old businessman was found July 29, bound by zip ties inside his Canton vending machine shop, with $10,000 missing. The robbery shocked the Greek and business communities in the city and county. Frank also owned two pool halls in Parkville and Dundalk and a shopping center in Owings Mills.

According to court records, an employee at one of the pool halls got a call from someone who said, "Your boss is in his office and he is not doing so good." Officers found Frank alert but unable to speak. He died two weeks later of head injuries associated with assault, autopsy reports show.

Investigators, who included city and county police along with the FBI, said they traced the phone that made the warning call to another phone connected to Chase and Mamalis.

The men are also accused of committing a Sept. 2 Pikesville home invasion in which robbers posed as police inspectors.

"I know all about you," one of the robbers allegedly told the male victim, referring to drug deals and "$400,000" hidden from the Internal Revenue Service, according to court records. The intruders tied up the man and his wife and made off with nearly a quarter of a million dollars in cash and jewelry, court records claim. An eyewitness reported seeing the robbers' vehicle, identified as a gold Kia.

Court documents say Chase rented a gold Kia from Enterprise Rental in August, returning it two months later and telling a rental company employee that "it may have been used in a crime."

A third robbery occurred Sept. 29 in Cockeysville. The victim, who told investigators he operates Sparrows Point Inn restaurant, said his home was broken into by armed intruders, one of whom claimed to be a Baltimore State's Attorney investigator. They stole $10,000 in cash from a drawer and another $50,000 from a basement safe, documents say.

The victim said an older white man had information about his family, including their names, and his gambling habits.

Investigators said Mamalis had business ties with all the victims. According to documents, he complained to one Baltimore County-based witness that Frank wouldn't lend him money and claimed to have once been a business partner of Frank's. The second victim said Mamalis helped a relative start a pizza business about a dozen years ago. And the third victim said he knows Mamalis through the restaurant.

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