NOPD: Arrests in separate cases to end both Fontainebleau break-ins and St. Charles-area robberies

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Otis T. Berthey (via

A trio of teens believed to be behind at least five armed robberies along St. Charles and Louisiana avenues were arrested this week, as was a man suspected in at least 10 home burglaries in Fontainebleau, likely bringing to end two separate crime sprees plaguing opposite ends of Uptown New Orleans.

The teens, whose names are not being released by police because all three are juveniles, approached a victim in the early morning hours of April 17 in the 1500 block of Aline Street (a block off St. Charles), and one drew a gun and said, “Give me everything,” said Lt. Mike Montalbano of the NOPD Second District investigative unit. The next day, a bank card taken in that robbery was used at a nearby bank, and still photos of the teenagers were taken, Montalbano said.

Investigators took the photos to Cohen High School, where at least one of the teens had been a student, and were able to identify all three and arrest them. Police then searched two of the teens’ homes, one in Hollygrove and one in Central City, and found clothing similar to that worn in the Aline robbery and a B.B. gun that looked like a semiautomatic handgun, Montalbano said.

Four other robberies were reported in the same time frame, Montalbano said, at General Pershing and St. Charles and in the 700 and 1000 blocks of Toledano last Friday evening, and in the 3500 block of Carondelet the following Saturday. In the General Pershing case, the suspects told the victim, “Give me all your stuff,” and in Carondelet, they used similar words, “Give me everything,” the same phrase from the Aline robbery, Montalbano said.

The two robberies on Toledano were within 45 minutes of one another, and the suspects closely matched the descriptions of those in the St. Charles cases, said Sgt. Sandra Contreras of the Sixth District persons-crimes division.

Investigators plan to return to the victims in the four unsolved cases with photo lineups that include the suspects to see if they can be identified, Montalbano said. Because they are juveniles with no previous arrest records, however, they are unlikely to stay jailed very long, even if charged and convicted in all five cases, he said.

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In an unrelated but likewise extensive case, police caught a man Thursday morning they believe to be behind as many as 10 home break-ins in the Fontainebleau neighborhood in the last week, primarily around the 4000 block of Vendome, they said.

Otis T. Berthey, 32, is charged with attempted burglary of a dwelling, said Commander Darryl Albert of the Second District, because investigators literally watched him try to break into a house Thursday morning. Undercover officers had intensified their patrols of the area as the break-ins continued over the course of the week, and on Thursday morning, they saw Berthey “walking around aimlessly” during the usual hours break-ins were being reported in the hard-hit area, and decided to watch him more closely, Albert said.

Berthey walked up to a house, knocked, sat on the porch and waited, then walked away and continued watching the house from nearby, Albert said. When no one came out, Berthey knocked again, then retrieved a ladder from the backyard, began to scale it toward a second-floor window, and was trying to enter it when he noticed police coming to arrest him, Albert said.

“We had the house surrounded and we were watching the whole thing,” Albert said. “We didn’t want to run the guy off; we wanted to catch him.”

A man fitting Berthey’s description was noticed by neighbors near several of the other homes broken into recently, and investigators are hoping those witnesses will be able to identify him now from his photo now, said Sgt. Marc Amos of the Second District property-crimes division. Even if not, Berthey is already on probation until 2016 for a previous home-burglary conviction from the same neighborhood, and the attempted-burglary charge could be a violation that would return him to jail for the remainder of his term, Amos said.

“He was literally a one-man crime wave,” Amos said. “He has caused these people a lot of problems.”

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