standing Courts

A Groton teenager, Zachary Sostak, waived his right to juvenile court proceedings and has been indicted by a Rhode Island grand jury for his alleged role in robberies in Hopkinton and West Warwick last year.

A statewide grand jury on Jan. 28 indicted Sostak, 17, on charges related to the April 27, 2018, robbery at Spicer Marketplace on Main Street in Ashaway, and an earlier robbery that day at the Rhode Island Nail Salon in West Warwick. He was charged with first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, using a firearm while committing a violent crime and carrying a pistol without a license in West Warwick. He was previously charged in late 2018 with first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in the Hopkinton incident. 

Sostak and four others — two juveniles and two adults from Connecticut — were arrested by Hopkinton police and Rhode Island State Police who responded to the Spicer Marketplace robbery, according to police and court documents. Two suspects had entered the store about about 6:20 p.m., and one approached the counter brandishing a black handgun and demanding  money, the police said. The clerk refused and the two fled, leaving in an SUV that the clerk described to police.

The SUV was located on Woodville Alton Road. An officer called for backup then tried to make a traffic stop on Wheeler Road. The car stopped but then then took off, with police in pursuit. Hopkinton Police Chief David Palmer reported at the time that the vehicle headed into the Fenner Hill Golf Course property — a dead end —where it was boxed in by Hopkinton and state police cruisers.

Palmer said the group tried to hide a fully loaded .9 mm handgun and two bandanas used in the attempted robbery. In addition, a state police K-9 search led to the discovery of several small baggies containing crack cocaine. All five in the car were taken into custody.

West Warwick police later charged several of the suspects, including Sostak and both adults, in connection with an incident that had occurred around 3:30 p.m. The police said two people had entered the nail salon on Cowesett Avenue, showed a gun, and left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Judicial records show that two of the men — Jeffrey Wheeler Jr., 29, of East Lyme, and Benjamin Ibbitson, 18, of New London — pleaded no contest to a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery as part of a plea deal. Both were sentenced to five years of probation.

The two juveniles and Sostak were referred to Rhode Island Juvenile Court, but Sostak challenged the charges and waived his right to a hearing as a juvenile, leading to the indictment. Officials confirmed that he will be tried as an adult.

Sostak is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 22 in Kent County Superior Court.

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