Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Two Defendants Convicted of Armed Robbery at Aqueduct Racetrack
Racetrack Security Guard Was “Inside Man” Who Posed as a Victim During the $280,000 Heist
Earlier today, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Lafayette Morrison of Hobbs Act robbery and conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery in connection with the March 7, 2020 armed robbery of more than $280,000 in cash from Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens. Morrison and co-defendant Lamel Miller were also convicted of brandishing a firearm, and Morrison of obstruction of justice. Miller pleaded guilty to the robbery in September 2022. When sentenced, the defendants each face minimum sentences of seven years’ imprisonment, and up to life imprisonment. The verdict followed a five-day trial before United States District Court Judge Ann M. Donnelly.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John B. DeVito, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New York Field Division (ATF), and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the verdict.
“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,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Today’s verdict proves once again that it is a losing bet to commit a violent crime and think that you will outrun the law.”
“This should serve as a warning to those who believe that armed robbery will be tolerated by the law enforcement community and the public,” said ATF Special Agent-in-Charge DeVito. “The men and women of ATF, and our NYPD partners in the ATF Strategic Pattern Armed Robbery and Technical Apprehension (SPARTA) Group, 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.”
“This violent robbery plot, featuring a racetrack security guard who betrayed his duty, showed a callous disregard for several victims,” said NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “Thanks to our joint law enforcement efforts, those responsible will now bear the consequences of their despicable acts. I want to thank our NYPD officers, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, the ATF’s New York Field Division, and everyone involved in this case for their exceptional work.”
As proven at trial, at approximately 10 p.m. following the Gotham Day stakes races at Aqueduct, Miller and a co-conspirator held up at gunpoint several racetrack employees – including Morrison, who was employed as a racetrack security guard – as they were transporting more than $284,000 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 employees’ cell phones, and forcing the employees into a closet. Miller and the co-conspirator then went to a hotel where they divided up the robbery proceeds; they each took $100,000 and gave the remaining $84,000 to Morrison who had posed as a victim during the robbery, but who was actually the robbery crew’s “inside man,” providing information in advance about where and when the money would be transported to the vault. When interviewed by federal law enforcement officers after the robbery, Morrison repeatedly lied to officers, including by claiming to be a victim of the crime and misidentifying a photograph of his childhood friend, Miller.
Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew R. Galeotti and Rachel A. Shanies are in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of paralegal Anna November.
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket Nos. 20-CR-216 (AMD)