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Two Queens men convicted in 2020 armed heist at Aqueduct Racetrack: Feds

Race
(Photo courtesy of New York Racing Association)

Two Queens men were convicted of armed robbery by a federal jury in Brooklyn Friday, Oct. 21, in connection with a 2020 armed heist at Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park.

Lafayette Morrison, 39, of Jamaica, was a security guard at the raceway and acted as an “inside man” who posed as a victim during the $280,000 heist, according to prosecutors. Morrison and his co-defendant Lamel Miller, 39, were also convicted of brandishing a firearm. Additionally, Morrison was convicted on an obstruction of justice charge.

As proven at trial, on the night of March 7, 2020, following the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, Miller and an unnamed co-conspirator held up at gunpoint several New York Racing Association employees — including Morrison, a racetrack security guard — as they were transporting more than a quarter of a million dollars in cash earnings to a vault. Miller and the co-conspirator emerged from their hiding spot in a stairwell and confronted the employees at gunpoint, taking the cash and the employees’ cellphones, and forcing the workers into a closet. Miller and the co-conspirator then went to a hotel and divided up the cash. They each took $100,000 and gave the remaining $84,000 to Morrison, who posed as a victim during the robbery, but was actually the crew’s “inside man,” providing information in advance of where and when the money would be transported to the vault.

Security camera footage showed the pair walking toward a parking lot while carrying a garbage bag and a duffel bag.

“Their armed robbery of Aqueduct Racetrack played out like a Hollywood movie heist, but with a bad ending for the defendants who now face steep prison sentences,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “Today’s verdict proves once again that it is a losing bet to commit violent crimes and think that you will outrun the law.”

Morrison repeatedly lied to law enforcement officers, including by claiming to be a victim of the crime and misidentifying a photograph of his childhood friend, Miller.

Two Queens men were convicted of armed robbery for a 2020 Aqueduct Racetrack heist that included a security guard acting as a victim. (NYPD)

“This violent robbery plot, featuring a racetrack security guard who betrayed his duty, showed a callous disregard for several victims,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “Thanks to our joint law enforcement efforts, those responsible will now bear the consequences of their despicable acts.”

The verdict followed a five-day trial before U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly. When sentenced, Morrison and Miller face minimum sentences of seven years’ imprisonment and up to life in prison.

“This should serve as a warning to those who believe that armed robbery will be tolerated by the law enforcement community and the public,” ATF Special Agent-in-Charge John DeVito said. “The men and women of ATF, and our NYPD partners, are at work daily to investigate and arrest those who believe they can prey on New Yorkers without consequence. Thanks to the NYPD’s Queens Robbery Squad and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the outcome of this case.”

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