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Troopers: ATM suspect also wanted in Lake Placid case

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CANTON — Theft suspect Joseph C. Lugo faces charges for an attempted ATM robbery outside Lake Placid that took place the week before he and another man allegedly stole an automated teller machine from the St. Lawrence University campus on Nov. 17.

An extradition hearing for the DeKalb resident, 24, who was captured Monday in Louisiana, has been set for this morning in Abbeville, where he is being held in the Vermilion Parish Correctional Center without bail to await the proceeding.

State police at Ray Brook said that Mr. Lugo and his alleged accomplice in the theft of a North Country Savings Bank ATM from St. Lawrence’s Brewer Bookstore, Brandon D. Crandall, 21, of Canton, also attempted to cut open an ATM located at an NBT Bank location in the town of North Elba, Essex County. No money was removed in that Nov. 10 incident, but the machine was heavily damaged, troopers said.

Mr. Crandall was arrested in Canton in November and released while his cases are pending.

Officials with North Elba Town Court said Wednesday that both suspects face charges of fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal mischief in the Lake Placid case. Mr. Crandall is scheduled to appear in that court on Monday.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duvé said her office will take the Canton ATM theft to a grand jury, although whether Mr. Lugo and Mr. Crandall’s cases are handled together or separately is a question of timing that has yet to be determined.

The first question is how quickly Mr. Lugo can be returned to New York. If he waives his rights and does not fight extradition when he appears before the Louisiana court today, that could be a fairly quick process, Ms. Duvé said. If Mr. Lugo fights the move, St. Lawrence County would need to petition the governor’s office to seek his return, a process that Louisiana officials suggested could take a month or more.

Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s deputies said Mr. Lugo was taken into custody shortly before 1 p.m. Monday outside a restaurant in Abbeville following a tip from a resident of a suspicious person loitering there.

Investigators recovered $17,600 in cash, roughly half the ATM’s contents, with Mr. Crandall’s arrest, and believe Mr. Lugo had of the money when he fled. He was found in Louisiana with only “the clothes on his back and a Bible,” Maj. Darryl LeBlanc of the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office said.

This was not the first cross-country escapade for Mr. Lugo, who has a criminal record dating back at least five years, including a safe theft, according to Daily Courier-Observer archives.

In April 2007, Mr. Lugo took part in the burglary of a home on Old Northerner Road in DeKalb, the newspaper reported.

He was arrested in Colorado in June 2007 and brought back to St. Lawrence County, pleading guilty on July 23. That September, he was sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation for third-degree burglary in connection with the theft of a safe and other items.

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