The only defendant to stand trial for a Hamburg steakhouse robbery was convicted Wednesday of second-degree robbery.
Following a bench trial, State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns ruled the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Joseph Tucker III robbed the Outback Steakhouse on McKinley Parkway at gunpoint Sept. 26, 2011.
Tucker did not testify during his trial. He faces 15 years when sentenced Nov. 14.
Three other men who participated in the robbery previously pleaded guilty to charges, including a dishwasher at the steakhouse who helped plan the robbery and pretended to be a victim as the other robbers bound his and other employees’ hands and feet with tape.
The dishwasher, Denivorie J. Jackson, 26, of Lackawanna, already has pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery.
Jason Brooks, 31, and Willie Martin, 39, both of Lackawanna, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted robbery.
“They all said they did this with Joseph Tucker,” prosecutor Sara N. Ogden said of the accomplices during her closing argument.
Testimony from victims and video showing two of the robbers with the stolen property corroborated what the accomplices said, Ogden said.
Tucker and the others terrorized the victims “all because they were hard up for money ... but they didn’t want to get a job,” Ogden said.
Defense attorney Michael G. O’Rourke sought to discredit the testimony of the accomplices, calling them “unreliable, unbelievable and totally lacking any credibility.”
“Is there anyone else who can place him at this robbery?” O’Rourke asked. “The answer is no.”
Martin, for example, “is trying to make his deal on the back of Tucker,” O’Rourke said. “He’s lying, lying, lying.”
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 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.
The break in the case came when a local citizen alerted police that he had purchased two Bills tickets for $40 and suspected they might be the ones stolen in the steakhouse robbery. With his assistance, police identified the seller as Martin.
Jackson had 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, police said.
Town of Hamburg police have credited Lackawanna and Buffalo police and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office with helping crack the case.