TOPEKA, KAN. – A man has pleaded guilty to robbing a convenience store in Manhattan, Kan., U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
Frank Joseph Hanson, 22, Manhattan, Kan., pleaded guilty today to one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. In his plea, Hanson admitted that on Feb. 6, 2013, he robbed Dara’s Fast Lane, a convenience store in Manhattan.
In a related arson case, defendants Patrick Martin Scahill, 20, Manhattan, Kan., and Virginia Amanda Griese, 19, Manhattan, Kan. have scheduled change of plea hearings for 1:30 p.m. April 17 before Judge Julie A. Robinson in U.S. District Court in Topeka.
Last month, they entered pleas of not guilty to the charge of Arson Resulting in a Death in connection with a deadly blaze that claimed the life of a Kansas State University researcher.
In Hanson’s case, the Riley County Police Department received a report of a robbery at Dara’s Fast Lane at about 1:21 a.m. on Feb. 6. A masked man brandishing a small revolver demanded money from the register. The robber also tried to force the clerk to use an ATM in the store to withdraw money from the clerk’s bank account. The robber left the store after the clerk swiped his card through the ATM and showed the robber how little money there was in the clerk’s account. Hanson's indictment indicated that he got away with $200.
At about 6 p.m. on the same day, Riley County police responded to a report of someone firing a weapon at parked cars. When police contacted the residents, Dennis James Denzien and Patrick Martin Scahill, they smelled marijuana. Police informed Denzien and Scahill that they were going to obtain a warrant to search the residence. After obtaining a warrant, police entered the residence and found clothing matching the description from the robbery at Dara’s. Police obtained a second warrant and found a mask, gloves, a backpack and the firearm used in the robbery, an RG Industries Model RG14 .22 caliber revolver.
Hanson is set for sentencing July 8. Co-defendant Dennis James Denzien is awaiting trial in connection with the armed robbery. Hanson faces a penalty of not less than seven years and not more than life and a fine up to $250,000.
In the related arson case, Patrick Martin Scahill and Virginia Amanda Griese, were indicted on one count of arson resulting in a death. The indictment alleges that on Feb. 6, 2013, Scahill and Griese were responsible for a fire at the Lee Crest Apartments, 820 Sunset Ave., in Manhattan. Dr. Vasanta Pallem, a 34-year-old postdoctoral researcher at Kansas State University who lived in the apartment complex, died as a result of the fire.
Grissom commended the agencies involved in investigating the two cases including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Riley County Attorney’s Office, the Riley County Police Department, the Manhattan Fire Department, the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigations and the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office. He also commended the attorneys who are prosecuting the cases including Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag, Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson and Assistant Riley County Attorney Barry Disney.
Officials have yet to go on the record to confirm how the hold-up at the convenience store is "related" to the deadly fire that claimed the life of Dr. Pallem.