By Dustin Brown
A botched robbery that led to a night-long hostage standoff at a Long Island Staples store last week was allegedly carried out by a pair of JFK Airport security guards who are also believed to have pulled a similar heist at the LaGuardia Community College Bookstore last year, police said.
Danita Brown, 22, and Kevin Grant, 23, are among five people accused of holding 12 people hostage after attempting to rob a Staples office supply store in Valley Stream March 6, Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon said. The six-hour standoff ended early last Thursday morning following the hostages’ rescue and their arrests.
But Brown and Grant, who are both unarmed security guards at John F. Kennedy International Airport, have since been accused of stealing more than $40,000 from the LaGuardia College Bookstore in two separate incidents, New York City police said.
Brown and Meroshinie Ramesh, 22, were part-time employees at the Long Island City bookstore and students at the college when they allegedly hatched a robbery plan with Grant and Kevin Affoon, 23, who was also arrested in the Staples case, the police said.
On June 27, 2001, Grant and Affoon allegedly entered the store when it was closed for the night, tied up Ramesh and the store manager, and stole $23,000 from the safe, according to city police and the criminal complaint from Nassau County.
They are also accused of having stolen $18,000 from the store’s safe in a burglary on Dec. 6, 2000, police said.
All four live together at 1453 Prospect Ave. in Brooklyn.
But a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney said Ramesh, who was not involved in the Staples incident, was the only one of the four who has been charged thus far in the LaGuardia Community College incident.
Ramesh faces charges of robbery, grand larceny and conspiracy, the DA said.
“This is purely random,” said Tony Maceli, the vice president of Posman Collegiate Stores, which operates the LaGuardia bookstore at 31-10 Thompson Ave.
“It’s random that you would hire a person that’s probably 18 years old, 19 years old, and expect them to develop into a hostage taker,” Maceli said. “This doesn’t happen every day.”
Brown and Grant were employed at the time of their arrest by Newark-based Haynes Security to patrol the parking lots at JFK, according to the company’s chief operating officer, Gary Egan.
Dan Bledsoe, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates JFK Airport, said thorough background checks performed at the time of their hire turned up no criminal histories.
“As far as we’re concerned, they were squeaky clean as far as their background checks,” Egan said. “Whatever motivated them to do something like this, who knows?”
Both have been suspended from work pending the outcome of the police investigation, Egan said.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.