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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of New York
Carla B. Freedman, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 5, 2023

Utica Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Robbery of Restaurant

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Nay Thar, age 25, of Utica, New York, pled guilty today to committing the armed robbery of a restaurant in Utica, and use of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun to commit the robbery, announced United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman, John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Chief Mark Williams, City of Utica Police Department.

As part of his guilty plea, Thar admitted that on August 5, 2022, he used an unregistered short-barreled shotgun to rob the Zam Zam Restaurant in Utica. Upon entering the restaurant wearing a ski-mask, Thar pointed the shotgun at an employee and demanded she open the cash register. After she fled to the rear of the restaurant, Thar stole a donation box from a charity on the counter, exited the building, and fled in a car. New York State Parole officers who happened to be in the area responded with Utica Police. After a short vehicle pursuit, Thar was taken into custody by Utica police. The ski-mask, unregistered shotgun, and stolen money were recovered from the car Thar was driving.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 7, 2024, in Syracuse, New York, at which time Nay Thar faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.00 for his conviction for Interference with Commerce through Robbery (Hobbs Act Robbery). He faces a mandatory consecutive sentence of ten-years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000.00 for his conviction for using an unregistered sawed-off shotgun to commit a federal crime of violence. Thar also faces a term of post-incarceration supervised release of up to 5 years following any term of imprisonment. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.

The ATF, the Utica Police Department and the New York State Police are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick is prosecuting (with assistance from the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office) the case as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.


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