The oyster po-boy is delicious. Just don’t order the stick-up sandwich.
A Kenner deli owner was arrested Friday after authorities said he acted as the ringleader in a brazen armed robbery that stripped an ATM deliveryman of $70,000 in $20 bills outside a bank branch in October.
Police believe 45-year-old Jack Manasco directed the violent rip-off of the driver who restocked the cash machines at Manasco’s own business.
Manasco also has been booked in connection with a similar stick-up of the same ATM servicer in Lockport in February.
Manasco and associates allegedly trailed the driver for some time, figuring out his route as he visited ATMs to refill them with crisp new bills. Then, on Oct. 14, police said, the crew struck: Armed with a silver handgun, they approached the 63-year-old driver as he left the Capital One Bank at 1000 West Esplanade Ave. in Kenner and demanded he turn over the money.
The driver refused, and a struggle began. One robber struck the driver with the gun on the left ear, took the money and hopped into a waiting white van.
Four months later, police said, the Manasco crew struck again. A band of robbers that included Manasco’s brothers Tommy, 47, and Troy Benner, 48, allegedly attacked the same driver with a stun gun outside a bar, took his money and stole his Ford Taurus. But the crew did not count on a video surveillance system that had been installed in the Taurus’ dashboard.
Kenner Police Department spokesman Lt. Brian McGregor said the video, Crimestoppers tips and an automated license plate reader all helped tie Jack Manasco to the October robbery.
“Our (license plate readers) showed that the van that was used in the robbery was being followed by Jack,” said McGregor. “They were doing some dry runs.”
McGregor said the driver’s route included restocking the ATM at Manasco’s Check-in Check-out deli, 400 Veterans Memorial Blvd., in Kenner, whose shrimp, oysters and easy airport access have been praised by online reviewers.
In another twist, Manasco’s wife, Beth, is an assistant manager at the Capital One bank branch targeted in October. Police have not accused her of any involvement in the crimes.
Anthony Hicks, 58, was arrested in connection with the first hold-up in October. Police last week arrested Michael Gordon in that crime as well.
McGregor said Jack Manasco has no significant previous criminal history, and police have not been able to establish a motive for the two armed robberies, other than greed.
Manasco’s Facebook page suggests that just two days before he allegedly masterminded the bank branch robbery, he opened a second location of his Check-In Check-Out deli, this one on Belle Chasse Highway in Gretna.
He did not immediately respond to requests for comment. He is free on $150,000 bail.
“If he would cooperate, I might be able to get an answer,” McGregor said of the businessman’s possible motive, “but he’s the only one that hasn’t really cooperated.”