Astoria cat mask robber gets 10 years in prison

Sketch courtesy NYPD
By Rebecca Henely

An Astoria death metal singer was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week for robbing two SoHo boutique stores while wearing a cat mask in the summer of 2010, a spokeswoman from the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

Shana Spalding, 29, who once sang under the name “Purgatory” for the Bronx-based band Divine Infamy, was found guilty of robbing two Manhattan stores in December. She has previously pleaded guilty to robbing two stores on Austin Street in Forest Hills. All four crimes occurred in summer 2010.

The Manhattan DA spokeswoman said while Spalding was previously facing up to 22 years in prison, New York State Supreme Court Judge Richard Carruthers gave her 10 years plus five years post-release supervision Feb. 1.

Despite pleading guilty earlier to the two robberies in Forest Hills and confessing to the two Manhattan robberies, Spalding denied she had committed the crimes at her sentencing, the New York Post reported.

“I am not the Catwoman! No! No! No!” Spalding said after she was sentenced, according to the Post.

Spalding’s crime spree, which attracted the attention of the public after the NYPD released a sketch of a woman wearing a cartoonish cat mask, started in Forest Hills, police said.

She entered a Nine West April 23 wearing a black scarf, black clothing and the black cat mask and passed a note to the clerk saying she had a gun and demanding money, police said. The clerk complied and Spalding fled, police said.

She followed the same modus operandi July 24 at Arche Shoes on Astor Place in Manhattan, wearing a cat mask and passing the teller a threatening note, the Manhattan DA said. On July 25, she went back to Austin Street at The Body Shop, only this time she entered the store wearing a cat mask and told the clerk to give her money or her husband would follow her and shoot everyone in the store, police said. In both cases, she ran away after receiving money, police said.

Her final robbery was of a Y-3 Boutique on Greene Street in Manhattan, police said. She approached the employee and demanded the money in the cash register, saying she and a man across the street both had guns, the Manhattan DA said. Spalding fled after being told by the employee said they could not get the money, the DA said.

City Department of Correction records said Spalding was arrested the next day.

In addition to later denying the crimes, Spalding said a man named Angel Martinez got her to rob the Y-3 Boutique and that her weapon was a toy gun, the Post reported.

Prosecutor Craig Ortner said she lied about being coerced and that Spalding said in a conversation with her mother at Rikers Island, which was recorded, that she wanted Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and the jury that convicted her to die, the Post reported.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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