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Three men plead not guilty in Flushing robberies

Law enforcement officials said the stores were owned by Asian Americans.

On Nov. 12, Fausto A. Plasencia, 22, Rafael Sanz, 27, and Malbin Brens, 19, entered not guilty pleas in Queens Criminal Court to first- and second-degree robbery and criminal possession of a weapon and property, said Betsy Herzog, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney. Plasencia and Sanz were held on $225,000 bail, and Brens on $25,000 in bail, Herzog said.

Addresses of the three men were not available.

Authorities said the men allegedly committed the four robberies in Flushing between Oct. 31 and Nov. 10, when they were arrested outside a candy store on 149th Street that they are accused of robbing. Two police officers from the 109th Precinct in Flushing arrested the three men down the block from the store on 35th Avenue, according to a complaint filed by the district attorney's office.

The first store the men were charged with robbing is Candyland at 15-29 149th St., in Whitestone, the complaint said. Sanz and another assailant, who was still at large, entered the store around 12:30 p.m. and pointed a gun at the cashier, demanding that she hand over the money in the cash register, the complaint said. After the woman gave them the money, the two men fled from the store, the complaint said. The complaint did not say how much money was taken.

The law enforcement officials said the men also allegedly robbed two other Flushing stores - one at 143-03 45th Ave. on Nov. 4 and another four days later at 145-02 14th Ave. - but the district attorney's office did not provide complaints for those incidents.

On Nov. 10, the night the three men were arrested, Plasencia walked into the T&Y Grocerystore just before 7:30 p.m., made his way toward the back and picked up a bottle of beer and soda, the complaint said. Moments later, Brens allegedly entered the store, gun in hand, and demanded that the clerk turn over the money in the cash register, the complaint said.

At the same time, Sanz came into the store and blocked the exit, the complaint said, directing Brens and Plasencia to also pilfer the pockets of the clerk and customers.

Five minutes later, the three men left the store but were arrested down the block in front of 148-16 35th Ave. by two uniformed police officers, the complaint said. One officer saw a loaded revolver fall from the pocket of Plasencia, the complaint said.

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