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DNA on banana leads to arrest of pharmacy robbery suspect

A suspect in the violent armed robbery of an East Aurora pharmacy last fall may think long and hard before he eats another banana.

Ryan Peltan, 30, a former East Aurora resident, is in custody in Ohio as a result of DNA testing on a banana that he either spat out or vomited before leaving Larwood’s Pharmacy on Oct. 24.

Peltan, who is being held in the Summit County Jail near Akron, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Buffalo Wednesday on charges of armed robbery and possession of a firearm in furtherance of crime of violence, according to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.

Investigators said Peltan and an accomplice made off with dozens of narcotic pills.

The other suspect was not identified by authorities, but news organizations in Ohio identified him as Derek W. Snell, 39, of Rittman, Ohio.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel L. Violanti said Peltan entered the pharmacy at 597 Oakwood Ave. and took, by force, a large amount of controlled substances. Police say Peltan displayed a firearm and threatened the owner, two customers and a 16-year-old store clerk during the robbery.

Two days later, police in Akron, Ohio, arrested Peltan and the other suspect in a car that they claim contained 23 firearms and numerous amounts and types of controlled substances.

Authorities said the drugs were traced to Larwood’s Pharmacy and were identified as the controlled substances taken during the robbery. If convicted as charged, Peltan could be sentenced to seven to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or both.

Barbara Burns, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said no firm date has been worked out yet with Akron law enforcement officials for Peltan’s return to Buffalo.

“He’s facing charges there so we have to work it out,” she said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office Wednesday said the indictment came as a result of investigative work done by East Aurora police under the direction of Police Chief Shane Krieger and by agents of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration.