Four teenage attempted robbery victims arrested; allegedly lied to police
PONCHATOULA - Four teenage attempted robbery victims were arrested after allegedly lying to police about details surrounding the incidents, according to Ponchatoula Police Department officials.
Ponchatoula PD officials said they responded to a call from 18-year-old Nicholas Hanford of Ponchatoula, around 9:45 p.m. on August 18. Hanford allegedly told officers two males approached him in his vehicle, pointing handguns at him and demanding cash and his cell phone. Hanford said the suspects fled the scene.
Nearly 20 minutes later, police received another armed robbery call on a street near the first scene, according to a spokesperson. In this situation, 18-year-old Megan Valentine of Hammond, 17-year-old Ariel Surrency of Covington, and 18-year-old Scott Avis of Ponchatoula, told officers they were at a stop sign when two male suspects pointed handguns at them, attempting to rob them and take their vehicle. Surrency told officers she was able to call Ponchatoula PD, which scared the suspects into fleeing the scene.
Officials say officers patrolled the area, eventually spotting two men fitting the description of the armed robbery suspects. One of the juvenile suspects was taken into custody. Another juvenile suspect got away, but police said they were able to get his identity.
A short time later, officials said they received a call regarding a vehicle stolen from a nearby mechanic shop. Officers from Ponchatoula PD and Hammond PD located the vehicle at the home of the second juvenile suspect, where they were able to take him into custody.
When speaking with officials, the suspects admitted to the robberies and led officers to the handguns, according to a police department spokesperson. Both suspects were charged with two counts of armed robbery. One of the suspects was also charged with auto theft. Both were transported to Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center.
While investigating, detectives said they learned the victims in the two armed robbery cases and the juvenile suspects communicated over social media, regarding the distribution of schedule IV drugs, which can include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Ativan.
According to police, Hanford arranged to meet the juveniles in a park to exchange the drugs. Their meeting apparently led to the armed robbery, officials said.
In a separate incident, Valentine, Surrency, and Avis arranged to meet with the juveniles to exchange drugs, leading to the attempted robbery, according to police.
Hanford was arrested at his home on September 12 for criminal conspiracy, filing false public records, perjury, and false swearing, a police department spokesperson said.
Surrency and Valentine turned themselves in to Ponchatoula PD the same day, charged with the same crimes as Hanford, officials said.
Investigators said Ponchatoula PD officers and Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office deputies located Scott Avis at his home outside of city limits and took him into custody on September 13. He was charged with criminal conspiracy.
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