The man accused of helping two others rob a midtown jewelry store apparently exchanged more than 25 calls and text messages with the armed robber who posed as a delivery man, according to court records.
Rondu "The Reef" Frisby, 37, was charged Tuesday with Hobbs Act Robbery conspiracy, which includes using methods of interstate commerce to commit the offense, and brandishing a firearm, authorities said.
Frisby was detained without bail during his arraignment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
His attorney, Peter Frankel, said Frisby pleaded not guilty and declined to comment further.
A man, identified as 58-year-old Leon Fenner, posed as a messenger to get into Watch Standard on West 47th Street in the Diamond District, police said. According to the criminal complaint, Frisby, who had arrived only moments before, let Fenner into the private eighth floor shop at 2:20 p.m. on Nov. 11.
The store's owner told investigators Frisby was "a friend, who [he] also sometimes conducts business with."
Frisby told the owner he was there "to help a friend pick out some jewelry for the friend's girlfriend," according to the complaint.
Phone records show that Frisby spoke to Fenner six minutes before the robbery started, according to the complaint. They allegedly spoke both before and after the attack.
Frisby allegedly had two phones: a "regular" and a "secret" phone.
Immediately after walking in, Fenner pulled out two yellow envelopes and said he was there to serve the owner papers, according to the criminal complaint. He then allegedly pulled out a gun, pointed it the group, including Frisby, and demanded all the jewelry.
While the group, including Frisby, started emptying the safe of about $600,000 worth of jewelry and watches, a relative of the owner came in, according to the complaint.
Fenner immediately pistol-whipped the relative. Three other people who knew the owner then arrived and saw the man guarding the hallway, but both men left quickly after.
Fenner was later identified by his fingerprints on the envelope and is still on the loose. A second man, wearing a red hat, stood guard in the hallway during the robbery, court records said.
More than 20 luxury watches and other expensive gold jewelry were stolen, according to court records.
Watch Standard is not typically open to the public, according to the complaint. It buys and sells high-end jewelry and watches both inside and outside of New York.
Shortly after the robbery police released a video of two suspects seen separately, pacing in front of the stores along the well-trafficked street, apparently before the robbery.
Frisby was apparently walking in front of Fenner and not pictured on the video, according to the complaint.