POWHATAN – The Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that two men have been arrested in connection with the 2019 robberies of two pharmacies in Powhatan and Henrico counties.

Robert Levon Graham and Rashad Javel Fraierson were arrested on Jan. 31 in an investigation that involved law enforcement agencies in both counties as well as the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration, said Jeff Searfoss, chief deputy.

Searfoss said the two men, who are being held at Pamunkey Regional Jail, will be charged federally, so he couldn’t comment on what charges had been filed against them.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, which both Powhatan and Henrico directed further inquiries to for additional information, could not be reached for comment by press time.

On July 15, 2019, two black men with covered faces entered Powhatan Drug at 2105 Academy Road at about 8:40 a.m. displaying firearms, Searfoss said. The men tied up the store owner with zip ties and stole prescription drugs before escaping in an SUV.

During the robbery, the sheriff’s office received what they believe was a related fake 911 call saying there was a man driving up and down Judes Ferry Road in a vehicle with a rifle near the high school, Searfoss said.

“We believe that was to divert resources away from the pharmacy. We did send resources to that area, but we also withheld resources locally and were able to be on scene at the pharmacy very quickly once the 911 call came from the pharmacy,” he said.

On Nov. 25, 2019, the Henrico Police Department was called at about 5:59 p.m. to the 2000 block of Staples Mill Road for the report of a robbery, according to a release on the agency’s Facebook page. Two black male suspects entered the pharmacy 10 minutes before closing time and displayed handguns demanding narcotic medications. They were wearing sunglasses, partial facial coverings, and latex gloves. The suspects escaped with an abundant amount of medications to include pills, powder, and liquid medications. They were driving a white older model sedan.

After the second robbery, the two county agencies reached out to each other because of the similarities in the crimes, Searfoss said. The latest report he had seen listed the combined amount of prescription medications stolen from the two robberies as in excess of $50,000, he said.

After news of the arrests broke last week, the sheriff’s office put a short statement on its Facebook page acknowledging two suspects had been apprehended. Searfoss said there was high interest in the case because a daytime robbery like that is not the type of crime Powhatan experiences often.

“Obviously, it is still in people’s minds because it is a very serious crime and someone could have potentially been hurt or killed in the commission of it. It is not something we take lightly, and that is why so many resources and time have been dedicated to figure out who did it and then hold them accountable,” Searfoss said.

Rick Pelletier, owner and pharmacist in charge of Powhatan Drug Inc., spoke last week about the news of the arrests. He said authorities have asked he not discuss the details of the robbery.

He said it is his nature to put negative events behind him, but when he heard from authorities about the arrest, it impacted him again. Although he is trying not to dwell on it, he said he did make security updates such as keeping the doors locked in the morning until there is a good amount of foot traffic and updating his security system.

Pelletier said the number of people who came into his store to offer encouragement after the robbery was remarkable and very heartening for him.

“I have been humbled by the empathy and encouragement granted to me by my customers and the community after this event. We are all blessed to experience to experience living in a true community like Powhatan,” he said.

Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.

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