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Men stole $438,000 in 2 Buffalo area credit union robberies, police say 

When State Police searched his car, Adrian D. Applewhite was unemployed.

Despite that, investigators said they found a receipt for a $2,000 gold item from the Walden Galleria and a second receipt for a $6,400 custom gold pendant with diamonds.

On Friday, Applewhite was charged with robbing two suburban Buffalo credit unions of $438,000, a sizable haul by bank robbery standards.

Robbed were the Clarence Community and Schools Federal Credit Union on Sheridan Drive in Clarence and the South Towns Federal Credit Union on South Park Avenue in Lackawanna.

According to State Police and the FBI, the robbers were armed with guns, forced employees to lay on the ground and, at one of the robberies, pepper-sprayed the tellers.

Investigators claim Applewhite, on parole for a previous robbery of a credit union, was involved in both the Nov. 7, 2019 robbery in Clarence and the July 25, 2019 holdup in Lackawanna.

Ronald L. Morris, who is also charged in the case, is accused of joining Applewhite in the Lackawanna holdup.

The complaint against the two defendants makes no mention of whether any of the stolen money was recovered.

"During the robbery, robbers were armed with pistols and donning masks and fluorescent green work gloves," the FBI said in its complaint.

At the Clarence credit union, there were three robbers, according to the complaint, and two of them, both armed with guns, ordered employees to the ground before going through the tellers' drawers.

The third robber went into the vault. Together, they escaped with $148,793.

At the robbery in Lackawanna, the suspects, this time two of them, came armed with a pistol and pepper spray. After spraying the tellers, they went to an unlocked safe and walked out with $290,000 in cash.

Investigators claim to have evidence, including text messages between the two, that link Morris and Applewhite to the robberies.

The two men were arraigned Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and pleaded not guilty.

"He maintains he's innocent, and it's a highly circumstantial case with no direct proof connecting my client to the crime," defense lawyer Thomas J. Eoannou said of Applewhite on Friday.

The prosecution is led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Violanti.

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