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Louisiana woman to testify in ATM theft

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CANTON — The DeKalb man on trial for the theft of an automated teller machine from the floor of St. Lawrence University’s Brewer Bookstore vestibule may look like a modern-day Robin Hood after the testimony of a Louisiana woman Wednesday.

Joseph C. Lugo, 24, of DeKalb is being accused of working with Brandon D. Crandall, 22, Canton, in the Nov. 17 theft of an ATM and the $35,380 within it.

Mr. Lugo had allegedly left the north country after the Nov. 17 heist and had to be extradited from Vermillion Parish, La. five months later.

While he was there, St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Andrew T. Botts said he allegedly confessed to the crime to Casey Adams Lopez.

Ms. Lopez, who is being flown in from Vermillion Parish to testify Wednesday, gave a statement in February to authorities in Louisiana, where she said she offered Lugo a place to stay.

Mr. Botts told St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards that, according to her statement to police, Ms. Lopez was filled in on the details of Lugo’s involvement in the ATM theft and where the money went.

“He admitted breaking into the ATM and stealing money and distributed the money to poor people up and down the east coast,” Mr. Botts said Ms. Lopez reported.

Mr. Botts said he received the statement from state police on Oct. 9 and first spoke to Ms. Lopez the following day.

According to the statement, Ms. Lopez first encountered Mr. Lugo on the street with nothing but a loaf of bread, talking on a cell phone.

“He told her he was looking for Kaplan and it looked like he needed help,” Mr. Botts told Judge Richards.

As testimonies continued Tuesday, Mr. Crandall’s friend and former roommate, James C. Edwards reiterated that Lugo allegedly understood the inner workings of the North Country Savings Bank owned ATM due to his supposed internship with the bank in which he learned how to load and unload money into the machines.

Mr. Edwards, 27, now of Rochester, said Lugo told him that the crime was a victimless one during a Nov. 18 conversation in the Main Street, Canton apartment he once shared with Crandall.

“It would be easy enough to do it again,” Mr. Edwards said Lugo told him. “He said it was a victimless crime and that the money was federally insured, that no one would be hurt.”

Along with Ms. Lopez, St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force Investigator Christopher Flint is expected to be recalled to the stand Wednesday. Judge Richards told jurors Tuesday afternoon that he expects them to be able to begin deliberations by Wednesday afternoon.

Testimony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.

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