2014-02-13 / Front Page

Police arrest suspect in cough syrup holdup

FREEHOLD — A Neptune resident has been charged in connection with the Jan. 8 armed robbery of a CVS pharmacy in Freehold Borough.

Members of several law enforcement agencies assembled in Neptune on Jan. 30 and located and took into custody Abdul Muhammad, 20. He is facing multiple charges in various municipalities, including charges of armed robbery in Freehold Borough in connection with his alleged participation in the CVS robbery.

Freehold Borough Police Lt. Michael Sweetman said officers from the Freehold Borough Police Department, the Ocean Township Police Department and the U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Task Force assembled in Neptune to locate and arrest Muhammad.

Sweetman said Muhammad was taken into custody and charged with the following offenses in Freehold Borough: robbery, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes in connection with the Jan. 8 robbery at CVS, 7 W. Main St.

Sweetman said that at 9:07 a.m., an individual entered the pharmacy through a rear door that is open to the public. The individual walked behind the prescription counter, which is at the rear of the pharmacy, near where the suspect entered the store. Upon being confronted by an employee, the suspect brandished a handgun, Sweetman said.

The suspect allegedly removed an undetermined amount of prescription cough medication from the pharmacy. The suspect placed the drugs in a blue nylon drawstring bag. Sweetman said the suspect left the store through the rear door and was believed to have fled the area on foot, heading toward Broad Street.

The medication that was reported stolen totaled $1,209, and included five bottles of Promethazine codeine, three bottles of generic Tussionex and one bottle of Cheratussinac, police said.

Detective Rich Schwerthoffer developed information and was able to identify a suspect.

Sweetman said detectives from Neptune Township “were extremely helpful in this part of this investigation.”

“As it turned out, several other law enforcement agencies were looking at the same suspect for various other offenses throughout Monmouth County,” Sweetman said.

The lieutenant said that on Jan. 30 at about 7:20 a.m., an officer assigned to the detail spotted a vehicle that fit the description of a vehicle known to be driven by Muhammad. The vehicle was spotted at a fast food restaurant in Neptune. The officers converged on the vehicle and located the suspect.

Muhammad was placed under arrest without incident, Sweetman said. He said Muhammad had a loaded handgun in his possession at the time of his arrest.

Muhammad was transported to the Monmouth County jail, Freehold Township, in lieu of $110,000 bail in regard to his alleged involvement in the CVS robbery.

“This case was the result of a lot of hard work,” Sweetman said. “Investigators from several agencies shared information and worked together, resulting in the arrest of a suspect for armed robbery. We are extremely pleased with the result.”

According to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Muhammad is also charged with possession of a weapon (a folding knife) in Neptune, with bail set at $5,000 and no 10 percent option; possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the Oakhurst section of Ocean Township, with bail set at $10,000 and no 10 percent option; and unlawful possession of a handgun in Neptune, with bail set at $100,000 and no 10 percent option.

— Clare Marie Celano

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