The Tuckahoe man who was arrested and charged last week with stealing $1,800 during a drug-related home invasion-style robbery last fall in Noyac accepted a plea deal on Friday afternoon that will keep him out of jail, according to his lawyer.
Daniel Claud, 19, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree robbery, a felony, in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead in exchange for time served and probation, according to his attorney, Daniel Rodgers of Southampton Village. The deal did not involve identifying the other man involved in the robbery, who remains at large, according to Mr. Rodgers.
Mr. Claud was accused of entering a home on Widener Lane in Noyac with another masked man in October 2013 and holding several occupants of the house at gunpoint while stealing $1,800 cash. Town Police Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa said this week that Mr. Claud and his accomplice knew the victims were selling marijuana and would have a large amount of cash in the home. She added that the house was not a known drug dealing location.
After an extensive investigation by detectives, Mr. Claud was arrested by Southampton Town Police last Thursday, May 8, after they picked him up near his home and took him to police headquarters for questioning. He was subsequently charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary, both felonies, as well as fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.
Both felonies could have carried a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, while the misdemeanor charge could have carried a maximum sentence of one year.
None of the stolen money has been recovered, and police are still looking for the other suspect.
Mr. Rodgers said the plea deal came about because the prosecution had a weak case against his client that would not have stood up during trial.
“This was a kid that was looking at five to 25 [years] in a state prison based on his original charges—first-degree robbery is taken very seriously,” he said. “This reflects more the weakness of the case than anything.”
Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota, said the decision was made to offer a plea based on the findings of Mr. Spota’s office and Town Police investigators. “This disposition is based on our criminal investigation of this matter in consultation with the Southampton Town Police Department,” Mr. Clifford said.
Det. Sgt. Costa said that despite the reduced charges, Mr. Claud, who had no previous convictions, still was convicted of a felony and will remain on probation for the next five years, which she said could include random drug testing and searching his home at any given time.
Other than the eight days he spent in the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside, Mr. Claud will serve no additional time behind bars. Mr. Rodgers said the court also granted Mr. Claud, who was 18 at the time of the robbery, youthful offender status, meaning his court documents will be sealed. That status, however, could be revoked by the court if Mr. Claud violates the conditions of his probation.
Mr. Rodgers added that the prosecution originally offered to drop the charges to a lone misdemeanor if Mr. Claud revealed the name of the other suspect, but his client refused. “He didn’t want to jeopardize his safety,” Mr. Rodgers said. “He lives in the area, his family has deep ties in the community, so he made a calculated decision.”
Now that he’s been released, Mr. Claud plans on finishing his senior year at Southampton High School, where he’s an honor student, according to Mr. Rodgers.