Six weeks to the day after a million-dollar perfume robbery at a warehouse in the New Jersey Meadowlands, one of the suspects—a 24-year-old NYPD cop named Brian Checo—pleaded guilty today in federal court in Newark to conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He could get up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he is sentenced on June 28.
That’s a fast score for federal prosecutors, but then the defendants—a group of seven men that included another current and one former cop—didn’t hide their tracks too well. They rented the trucks used in the heist under their own names.
When told by the rental agent that the two couldn't leave their cars—a red Ford Mustang and silver BMW—at the rental lot due to company rules, two other suspects drove to the warehouse in the cars while [NYPD officers] LeBlanca and Checo each drove a truck, the rental agent told authorities. Later, an eyewitness described the silver BMW fleeing the scene.Our highly-tuned forensic nostrils have detected a fishy note hovering over this caper since the beginning. Checo’s rapid admission of guilt smells like a plea bargain—what information might he have coughed up? Has he rolled over on his indicted co-conspirators Alan Bannout, Orlando Garcia, Gabriel Vargas, Luis Morales, and Anselmo Jimenes? We’ll know more on June 28.
Meanwhile, what’s become of the group of day laborers who were hired to hump the perfume boxes into the getaway trucks? Why haven’t they been charged?
Only two of the five trucks used in the robbery have been recovered. What happened to the other three?
And last but not least, what’s become of the hot perfume?