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30

Teens Charged in Gas Station Robberies

A shot from a pellet gun through an off-duty police officer's car window Saturday night landed ...

A shot from a pellet gun through an off-duty police officer's car window Saturday night landed four Farmingdale teenagers in jail, charged in connection with a string of gas station holdups, Nassau police said.

The shot was fired from a car about 11:30 p.m. on the Southern State Parkway in North Massapequa, police said, and it broke the rear window of a car driven by Michael LaSala, a Nassau County officer assigned to the First Precinct. Police said LaSala was driving with his wife and three children in the car but there were no injuries.

According to Det. Sgt. Kevin McPadden of the Eighth Squad, LaSala handed his cell phone to his wife, who called 911. He followed a blue Volvo from which police said the shot was fired and eventually uniformed officers took over the pursuit.

Police arrested Jonathan Cernuto, 17, of 34 Taylor Dr., John Caraballo, also 17, of 12 County Line Rd. and a 15-year-old boy whose name was withheld because of his age. McPadden said Caraballo fired the shot, adding that it apparently had been fired "for laughs."

After further investigation, detectives linked the three to gas station robberies in the area recently, and on Sunday a fourth boy was arrested. Edward Rizzo, 17, of 80 Powell Place in Farmingdale, was arrested in Levittown.

Police said all four were charged with at least one count of first-degree robbery in connection with gas station robberies in East Meadow, Farmingdale and North Massapequa. Rizzo and the 15- year-old also are accused of a Sept. 27 driveway holdup of a woman in Farmingdale.

Cernuto, Caraballo and the 15-year- old were charged with first-degree assault for allegedly shooting at the car and with drug charges in connection with marijuana and another drug allegedly found in the Volvo.

Cernuto and Caraballo were arraigned Sunday; they were being held yesterday, Cernuto on $150,000 bail and Caraballo on $250,000. Rizzo was arraigned yesterday in First District Court in Hempstead and was released later in the day after making $150,000 bail. The 15-year-old's case is being processed through family court.

newsday.com