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Potsdam man faces robbery charge

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POTSDAM - A Potsdam man faces a robbery count after he allegedly stole between %400 and $600 from an acquaintance outside La Casbah early Sunday morning.

Village police charged Benjamin R. Tipping, 26, of Potsdam with third-degree robbery at noon Sunday following an investigation into the overnight incident.

He was arraigned by Potsdam Village Justice Nicholas Pignone on Sunday and released under probation supervision at the recommendation of the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office with the court signing an order of protection directing Tipping to have no contact with the alleged victim.

But Tipping was sent to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility Monday afternoon after he was charged with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle following a traffic stop at 11:05 a.m. Monday in the Canton-Potsdam Hospital parking lot.

In the robbery arrest, police alleged Tipping lured Edward S. Thompson, 51, of Colton into the alley behind La Casbah early Sunday morning and forcibly took a roll of cash from the victim’s hand.

Mr. Thompson said he had been at La Casbah listening to music, people watching and drinking soda and left the bar at about 2 a.m. after the bartenders made their last call.

“I saw a guy outside the bar that I recognized. He used to work at Martin’s (Service Station) until he stole a car and lost his job. I have also hung out at the bar with him before at McDuff’s. He was always decent to me,” Mr. Thompson noted in his statement to police.

He said they were talking outside La Casbah, and Tipping walked him toward the alley behind the bar that has a number of large trash bins. “He asked me if I wanted to go to any after hours parties. He said he knew where some great ones were, but they cost money to get into. I asked him how much, and he said $10 apiece. I told him that wasn’t a problem,” Mr. Thompson said, noting he reached into his pant’s pockets and pulled out a rubber banded wad of money containing $500 to $600.

“When I pulled out my money, I said how about this. Tipping immediately grabbed the money from my hand. He grabbed it before I realized what was going on so I couldn’t fight for it. He then took off running down the alley back toward the bank near the IGA,” he said, noting issues with his legs prohibited him from running after Tipping.

He said he walked as fast as he could after Tipping and searched the downtown area after he thought he saw a guy that could have been Tipping enter Pizza Hut. “I went over and tried the door, but it was locked. As I was still in the parking lot, a police officer approached me and asked me what I was doing in the lot,” Mr. Thompson said in his statement to police, noting he then alerted officers that he had been robbed by a male that had worked at Martins’s at one time.

Mr. Thompson said he was able to identify Tipping from a photo array shown to him by police Sunday morning.

Tipping was charged last week with burglary, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle after he reportedly took a vehicle from his employer’s garage without the owner’s permission.

Police said they are also investigating Tipping’s role in an altercation he reportedly had with several other males after he left La Casbah that was unrelated to the robbery incident.

He also still has a fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon pending in Massena Town Court stemming from a March 12, 2011 arrest. He reportedly did not have a permit for a .22 calibre pistol he reportedly had in his possession when state troopers were working on an unrelated case.

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