Related topics

3 Arrested in Trade Center Heist

January 17, 1998 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A suspect in the $1 million World Trade Center robbery showed up at a friend’s house with $10,000 cash, then went on a shopping spree and splurged on a lobster dinner, the friend said Friday.

The suspect, Michael Reed, didn’t seem to enjoy the meal, though.

``He was very scared,″ his friend, John Costello, said from his kitchen in Brooklyn on Friday.

Reed ``thought he was going to get whacked,″ Costello said.

Costello spoke to The Associated Press after being questioned by the FBI. He said he believes somebody else was behind the heist and that he was talking to the AP because he, too, was afraid.

So far the FBI has implicated only three suspects, including Reed, in Tuesday’s heist. The three were identified by neighbors in Brooklyn who recognized their faces on security-camera pictures shown on television and on front pages. Neighbors described the three as having minor criminal records and drug habits.

Reed, who appeared in court Friday, is being held without bail. Melvin Desmond Folk is also under arrest.

The third suspect, Richard Gillette, was arrested Friday night in Albuquerque, N.M., when bar waitresses who recognized him from police photos called authorities.

Gillette, pointed out to officers by a waitress at Famous Sam’s, ducked into a bar bathroom to avoid arrest, but was caught in a nearby hotel lobby. Police spokesman Tony Herrera said Gillette apparently had arrived in the city by train earlier the same day.

He had $18,000 on him when arrested, officers said.

Gillette was to appear Tuesday morning before U.S. Magistrate William W. Deaton Jr. in Albuquerque, according to FBI Supervisory Agent Doug Beldon.

Back in New York, Reed’s friend Costello, who is 32 and unemployed, said he declined an invitation from Reed to take part in the robbery. He said Reed showed up at his apartment shortly after the heist with $10,000, saying his share would include an additional $240,000.

Costello said Reed did not reveal whether he had accomplices.

``I never asked him. I never talked about it. I never wanted to know,″ Costello said.

He said he urged Reed to leave the state. ``But he was paralyzed with fear.″

So the two went shopping, buying $400 worth of new clothes and sneakers before riding the subway to midtown Manhattan, where they gave $50 to a beggar and sat down at an Italian restaurant for a dinner of lobster and scallops, Costello said.

He said Reed also handed out about $200 each to several friends, and bought a Movado watch before the two headed back to Brooklyn.

But Reed didn’t seem to be the enjoying the money.

``This was supposed to be fun, but he didn’t even enjoy it,″ Costello said at home Friday, shaking his head in wonder as his 76-year-old grandmother, Vivian Costello, looked on.

He said he also knew Folk, but did not know Gillette. Reed, 34, and Folk, 44, are charged with armed robbery.

At his bail hearing Friday, Reed’s lawyer, Fred Cohn, volunteered even before prosecutors could speak that Reed was willing to be detained without bail.

Reed, wearing immaculate white sneakers, showed little emotion.

The heist at the World Trade Center had gone like clockwork at first, but the three suspects then blew their escape by taking off their ski masks before walking past security cameras. Authorities gave the pictures to the press, and scores of people called police to identify them.

Only a negligible amount of the $1.1 million taken has been recovered, FBI spokesman Joseph Valiquette said.

The investigation continues into how the trio got to the 11th floor of the Trade Center’s Tower 1 with a gun, just as two Brink’s guards were delivering money to a bank. The bandits handcuffed the guards and five other people before fleeing with three bags of money.