Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crime spree suspect’s son serving time

Charles Conden Jr. accused of being involved in 9 armed robberies

January 14. 2014 11:47PM

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WILKES-BARRE — Charles Conden Jr. shares something with his son, Charles III: Both are facing armed robbery charges.

The 47-year-old father was allegedly involved in a 17-day spree of armed robberies in the area while the 20-year-old son is charged with causing terror in two states on a single day.

Another feature the father and son share?

Authorities allege the elder Conden on Dec. 24 was involved in an armed robbery at First National Community Bank on Wyoming Avenue, Kingston, the same street where the younger Conden was captured by state police on Aug. 6, 2012.

While the elder Conden was allegedly involved in at least nine armed robberies, the younger Conden is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Maryland for an armed robbery with shots fired.

Conden III, who had lived in Edwardsville, pleaded guilty in Worcester County, Md., court in November 2012 to robbing the Raceway Citgo Convenient Store in Ocean City on Aug. 3, 2012. Conden was accused of firing a round from a handgun at a witness, according to Ocean City police.

The armed robbery with shots fired in Ocean City occurred about 15 hours after state police allege he fired several rounds into a residence at 360 Huntsville-Idetown Road in Lehman Township, the estate compound of prominent area businessman Ken Pollock, according to criminal complaints.

State police said four bullets went through a glass-plated door, which tripped an alarm. There was evidence that a shot was fired while Conden III was allegedly inside the house.

An elderly woman in the house at the time was awakened by a dog and hid in a closet, where she called 911.

Charges pending

Conden III is facing multiple burglary and firearm offenses, which were filed with District Judge James Tupper in Kingston Township in May. He has not been arraigned on the charges.

The FBI arrested the elder Conden and Jeffrey Townsley, 42, of Kingston, on Friday night, when they were found at the Red Roof Inn in Plains Township. They are suspected of holding up two banks and seven businesses in several Wyoming Valley municipalities since Dec. 24.

At a news conference Tuesday at the Luzerne County Courthouse, Christian Zajac, special agent in charge of violent crimes at the FBI Philadelphia Office, and District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis praised law enforcement for the captures.

“As we enter the prosecution phase of this investigation, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania will continue to work with the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office as well as our local law enforcement partners to ensure Mr. Townsley and Conden pay the price for their actions during their 17-day crime spree,” Zajac said.

Federal prosecution

Standing below most of the county courtrooms where Conden and Townsley could be meeting their fate, Salavantis said the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute the pair.

“What this means is that these perpetrators may face larger sentences and may be off our streets for a longer period of time,” Salavantis said. “That is something we try to do to help keep our streets safe in Luzerne County. … This will hopefully be a deterrent for anyone who decides that they may go on a spree such as this.”

Zajac refused to say when investigators realized the robberies were committed by the two men, or what the motive may have been that led to the robberies, or if Townsley and Conden had planned more robberies.

“In a span of 17 days, they committed nine robberies,” Zajac said. “We didn’t have any indication they were going to stop.”

Federal prosecutors charged Townsley and Conden with bank robbery and interference with commerce by threats or violence, according to the federal criminal complaint. A news release from the FBI says Townsley is charged with nine armed robberies. Conden is charged as a co-conspirator.

They remained jailed at the Lackawanna County Prison awaiting a preliminary examination on Jan. 22.

Here is a list of armed robberies Townsley and Conden are accused of committing:

Dec. 24: First National Community Bank, Wyoming Avenue, Kingston.

Dec. 26: Claire’s Bar, Hazle Street, Hanover Township.

Dec. 26: Forever Nails Salon, West End Road, Hanover Township.

Dec. 27: Adult World Book and Movie Store, Route 11, Larksville.

Jan. 2: First National Community Bank, Sans Souci Parkway, Hanover Township.

Jan. 6: Dollar General, South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre.

Jan. 7: Aldi Supermarket, Pierce Street, Kingston.

Jan. 8: Thomas Food Mart, Washington Avenue, Larksville.

Jan. 10: Family Dollar, South Main Street, Ashley.


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