A 35-year-old Manorville man accused of pulling off 10 armed robberies in Suffolk County, including one in Calverton and one Mattituck, was doing so to support a heroin addiction, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
Paul Tromblee pleaded not guilty in county criminal court Friday to nine counts of first-degree armed robbery and one count of third-degree robbery. He was then held on $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond by Suffolk County Court Judge John Iliou.
Mr. Tromblee is accused of displaying a firearm and demanding money from clerks in 10 different robberies from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 to get money to support a heroin addiction, said assistant district attorney Tisha Burrows, the prosecutor assigned to the case.
“He admitted that orally and in writing,” Ms. Burrows told a reporter outside the courtroom following Mr. Tromblee’s arraignment on the indictment, which was handed up by a grand jury on Monday.
Mr. Tromblee, who has been in custody since his Nov. 9 arrest, wore green pants and a green T-shirt in court, exposing a sleeve tattoo on his right arm.
A number of his relatives were present, although none spoke in court or afterward when asked for comment by a reporter.
“After having met with many of his family members, I would say the allegations are out of character for Mr. Tromblee,” said Steve Politi, Mr. Tromblee’s attorney. He said there also are about a dozen character-reference letters supporting Mr. Tromblee from people outside his family.
“He has no criminal convictions,” Mr. Politi said of his client. “He’s a dad. He has an 8-year-old boy and he’s very loved by his family.”
Ms. Burrows said Mr. Tromblee began a pattern of robberies starting last month at small stores in which he would walk up to the counter and pretend to buy something, like a bottle of water or a beverage. When the clerk would open the register to make change, he would display a gun and demand money, often asking the clerk to lift up the register draw to make sure there was no money left under it, she said.
Many of the robberies were caught on surveillance videos, she said.
In an interview outside the courtroom, Ms. Burrows said Mr. Tromblee admitted to using a BB gun in the robberies, although no weapon has been recovered. She said whether he had a BB gun or a real gun would not affect the charge of first-degree robbery because he allegedly said during the robberies that he had a gun.
Judge Iliou said he believed the $250,000 bail demanded by the prosecutor was low, and he said that given the amount of Upstate jail time Mr. Tromblee potentially faces on these charges (25 years), and the allegation that he was doing the robberies to support a heroin addiction, he felt Mr. Tromblee did present a flight risk.
He then approved the $250,000 cash bail and $500,000 bond amounts, and set a return court date of Dec. 18.
Mr. Tromblee also faces a separate charge of possession of a hypodermic instrument, stemming from a Nov. 9 arrest by Suffolk County police in regard to an Oct. 30 incident.
The robberies occurred at gas stations in Calverton, Mastic, North Babylon, St. James, Dix Hills, and Bohemia, as well as Jamba Juice in Stony Brook, Kissed by the Sun Tanning in Islip, CVS Pharmacy in Lake Ronkonkoma, and Game Stop in Mattituck.
The Calverton robbery was at the Hess station by the LIE entrance ramp off Nugent Drive.