New York man pleads guilty for involvement in gay bar robbery scheme that left two dead
A New York man has pleaded guilty to charges of robbery, grand larceny, and identity theft linked to his involvement in a gay bar robbery scheme.
Eddie Ashley, 30, is one of six men who were arrested and charged in connection with a citywide scheme that led to the deaths of two gay men last year.
Social worker Julio Ramirez and political consultant John Umberger died of “acute intoxication” from a mix of drugs including fentanyl, cocaine, and ethanol, after they were victims of the drugging and robbery scheme.
Both men had last been seen walking out of separate gay bars in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, one month apart.
Ashley’s charges are related to four separate incidents, one of which was his part in the gay bar robbery scheme which ran from September 2021 to August 2022.
Ashley had initially pleaded not guilty to his involvement in the drugging and robbery scheme, but has this week changed his plea to guilty, the Manhattan district attorney’s office has confirmed, per NBC News.
The guilty plea is linked to Ashley’s alleged involvement in the scheme that put New York City’s nightlife on edge, but not the deaths of Ramirez and Umberger.
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Three of the six men arrested for their involvement in the scheme face murder charges.
Prosecutors allege that the suspects drugged victims who were leaving gay bars and, when they were incapacitated, used their faces to unlock their mobile phones and robbed them using cash apps.
The five other suspects, Jayqwan Hamilton, Robert Demaio, Jacob Barroso, Andre Butts and Shane Hoskins, have pleaded not guilty to all charges and are currently awaiting trial.
When Umberger’s, 33, body was found in June, 2022, days after he was last seen leaving a gay club with three unidentified men, his cell phone and credit cards were missing, and more than $25,000 had been transferred out of cash app accounts on his phone like Venmo and PayPal, the New York Post reports.
Five weeks earlier, Ramirez, 25, had been found dead in the back of a taxi after leaving a gay club with three unidentified men. His phone and wallet were also missing, around $20,000 had been transferred out of his bank accounts, and his credit cards had been maxed out.
Reacting to Ashley’s new guilty plea, Umberger’s mother Linda Clary said: “I’m grateful for his willingness to admit his guilt and have some consequences for that. We can only hope for justice for the rest involved.”
Ashley now faces nine years in state prison, his attorney Terrence J. Grifferty confirmed.
In a statement issued this week, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg commented: “Everyone should be safe when they go out and experience Manhattan’s vibrant nightlife, and this multi-year prison sentence makes clear we will not tolerate this type of dangerous conduct.”
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