By Conor Greene
Four men, including a 20-year-old former underwear model who made news last year when his 37-year-old girlfriend was fired from her teaching job due to the relationship, have been charged in 15 armed robberies over the past month.
Joshua Walter, whose relationship with a Howard Beach teacher made headlines last year, was charged in the crime spree along with Lamont Adams, 33, of Far Rockaway, Willie Winston, 30, of Astoria and James Young, 29, of Brooklyn. Each was charged with robbery and criminal possession of a firearm in connection with robberies, which stretched from Greenpoint thorough central Queens.
The string of robberies began on June 14 at a fruit and vegetable market on 45th Avenue in Astoria and continued through July 12, when the group held up a Dunkin’ Donuts on Horace Harding Expressway. In between, the group is charged with hitting 7-11 stores, including locations on Northern Boulevard, Metropolitan Avenue and Queens Boulevard, convenience stores such as Super Deli on Woodhaven Boulevard and bodegas in areas including Rego Park, Forest Hills and Jamaica.
The spree, which netted between $800 and $1,000 during each heist for a total of $12,000 to $15,000, came to an end at about 1:30 a.m. on July 16, when police with the Queens North auto larceny task force spotted a red Chevy Astro van matching the getaway vehicle’s description on 30th Avenue in Astoria.
After they were taken into custody, the suspects were placed in lineups and admitted their roles. Nobody was seriously injured in the robberies, during which the men displayed handguns while emptying the cash register and stealing cigarettes and lottery tickets. One suspect was captured on camera wearing a red USC sweatshirt during every heist, and police say Walter struck a customer with a .380 handgun during the final holdup.
Walter, a former Hugo Boss model, gained some unwanted attention last year when his girlfriend, Gina Salamino, 37, was fired from her city teaching job due to the couple’s relationship, which began when he was 17.