10 years for knifepoint robber of L.I., Queens stores

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Khalif House, 25, pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from the 40 knifepoint robberies he committed across Long Island and Queens. (Photo from Nassau County Police Department)

A Hempstead man who robbed 40 Long Island and Queens businesses at knifepoint will serve 10 years in prison, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Khalif House, 25, pleaded guilty in December to one federal robbery conspiracy charge stemming from his holdups of restaurants and convenience stores — including two in New Hyde Park — over a 16-month period, which spurred a lengthy search by local police.

The sentence U.S. District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack handed down on Thursday also includes three years of supervised release and orders House to pay restitution of $18,733.

“This robbery spree placed residents at risk, became one of our highest priorities and thus, this type of criminal conduct can never be accepted,” Patrick Ryder, the acting Nassau police commissioner, said in a statement.

House targeted regional and national chains such as 7-Eleven, Subway, Carvel and Dunkin Donuts. Wearing gloves and covering his face, he would brandish a knife at store employees, demand cash and flee. He physically assaulted workers on two occasions, federal prosecutors said.

Thirteen of the crimes occurred in Nassau County, starting at a North New Hyde Park Dunkin’ Donuts on March 1, a Nassau police spokesman has said. House also robbed a Subway store on Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park on the morning of April 25, taking $457.

House’s girlfriend, Lisette Veltri of Valley Stream, helped House with 29 of the robberies. Both were addicted to heroin and committed the robberies to get money to buy the drug, House’s attorney, Murray Singer, wrote in a June 28 letter to Azrack.

The 10-year prison sentence is more than the 87 to 108 months Singer sought for House, but less than the 20 years prosecutors wanted. He is now drug-free “and is anxious to continue the work he has done since his arrest to put his life on a positive path,” Singer wrote in his letter.

“We’re confident he’s going to do what he can to get himself on the right path while he’s in, and that his family will be there for him when he gets out,” Singer said in an interview Thursday.

Police caught up to House after he tried to rob a Dollar Tree store in College Point, Queens early in the morning on June 8, 2016.

He fled to Floral Park, where the village police force started a four-hour pursuit that led to his arrest. Federal authorities, the NYPD and Nassau and Suffolk police assisted in the search.

Federal Magistrate Judge Kathleen Tomlinson ordered House to be held in jail without bail last summer, citing his criminal history, past attempts to flee law enforcement and substance abuse problems.

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