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When four employees of the Outback Steakhouse had their hands and feet bound with tape and were forced onto the floor at gunpoint during a late-night robbery in the Town of Hamburg last September, three had good reason to be terrified.
But not the fourth one. Dishwasher Denivorie J. Jackson, now 26, had nothing to fear.
This was an inside job, and Jackson was the one who planned it, town police said Tuesday in announcing the arrests of four suspects in the case.
Jackson and two other defendants already have pleaded guilty and face maximum prison terms of either seven or 15 years, officials said. The fourth defendant is awaiting trial.
"I don't remember in my career a case where a restaurant had people tied up and bound," Capt. Kevin Trask said Tuesday. "You can obviously imagine the trauma they went through. We took it very seriously."
Police say that Jackson, a dishwasher at the steakhouse on McKinley Parkway, planned the robbery, along with Joseph Tucker III, Jason Brooks and Willie Martin.
Jackson told his accomplices what time the rear door would be open for the dishwashers to take out the garbage, allowing the robbers to enter the restaurant, officials said.
At about 10:15 p.m. Sept. 26, police said, two men entered the restaurant, one armed with a gun. They forced Jackson and three other employees into an office. A third person joined the other two robbers and bound the employees' hands and feet.
They took about $1,200 and personal items, including two Buffalo Bills tickets that later helped lead to their capture. After the holdup, the robbers fled in one victim's car.
Town of Hamburg police Tuesday credited Lackawanna and Buffalo police and the Erie County Sheriff's Office with helping them crack the case.
The biggest break may have come when Lackawanna police talked with a local citizen who had purchased two Bills tickets for $40, the same tickets stolen from one of the robbery victims. Lackawanna police then determined that Martin had been the person who sold the stolen tickets.
According to Hamburg police, Martin, 39, and Brooks, 31, both of Lackawanna, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted robbery and face maximum prison sentences of seven years apiece.
Jackson, who also lives in Lackawanna, has pleaded guilty to six counts of second-degree robbery and faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
Tucker, 30, of Buffalo, remains in the Erie County Holding Center awaiting his trial, set to start Sept. 24.

email: gwarner@ buffnews.com