Northern New York Newspapers
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Fri., Aug. 28
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Ski Mask Didn't Hide Alleged Brasher Robber's Identity


BRASHER FALLS - A clerk at the Tri-Town IGA told state police investigators he recognized the voice and movements of the man wielding a baseball bat and demanding money when he entered the grocery store late Monday afternoon.
Massena-based state police charged Michael G. Prior III, 18, of 872 state Route 11C, Brasher Falls, with first-degree robbery Monday night after he entered the Tri-Town IGA with a baseball bat, slammed it several times against the food belt and counter at the cashier's station and demanded money.
Tanner M. Phippen, a high school student working as a clerk at the store, said a man wearing a red ski mask and a black hooded jacket with the hood pulled up over his head entered the store at approximately 5 p.m. He said he could only see one ice hole in the man's mask.
"The male hit the first register with a silver and green bat and said, 'This is a stick up.' He then came over to my register and hit it, saying, 'Put the money in the bag and open the drawer.' The male said this a couple of times," Mr. Phippen recalled in the statement he provided state police investigators.
A second store clerk, Beth Nezezon, said she had also seen the masked man enter the store and heard him demand money from Mr. Phippen.
The teenager said the masked man then walked around the store and hit a counter by the deli. He said the man kept repeating himself.
"I yelled to Tanner to give him the money. Tanner froze and looked back at me, not knowing what to do," she suggested in her statement to police.
Ms. Nezezon said the masked man walked back toward the register where Mr. Phippen was working, grabbed a jug of change collecting money for a charity and left the store. Troopers said the jug contained approximately $10 in change being raised for a cancer victim.
The store clerks said the man then left the store, ran across the road and up a hill that leads from the store to Prior's residence. He lives with his grandmother approximately two blocks from the store.
"I recognized his voice and movements as Michael Prior. I know Michael from school and seeing him around school," Mr. Phippen told troopers.
Prior was taken into custody a short time later at his residence. He was arraigned by Brasher Town Justice Jeremiah D. Mahoney and sent to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail set at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond.
He is scheduled to reappear Wednesday in Brasher Town Court.

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