Mesa police arrest 5 in string of robberies

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Nicholas J. Granata By Jennifer Thomas Nicholas J. Granata By Jennifer Thomas
Michael J. Divito By Jennifer Thomas Michael J. Divito By Jennifer Thomas
Jonathan P. Frank By Jennifer Thomas Jonathan P. Frank By Jennifer Thomas
Bradley L. Friend By Jennifer Thomas Bradley L. Friend By Jennifer Thomas

MESA, Ariz. -- Mesa police arrested five suspects Friday in connection with a series of robberies in the East Valley.

Police have linked the suspects to 12 robberies in Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler since Dec. 30.

In all of the robberies, a suspect walked into a business and asked an employee if he or she can make change. When told he must buy something for the employee to be able to open the register, he decides to make a purchase. At that point, the suspect handed the employee a note demanding all the money from the register and stating that he "needs to feed his family and does not want to hurt anyone."

Sgt. Ed Wessing with the Mesa Police Department said no weapons were ever displayed in the robberies.

According to Wessing, it appeared that two of the suspects, Nicholas J. Granata and Michael J. Divito, were alternating committing the robberies, but the method of operation was identical in each of the crimes.

Surveillance photos of the two suspects were obtained at several businesses.

After asking for the public's help to identify the suspects, detectives received several calls, including one that provided a possible identification and location of one of the suspects. Mesa detectives began canvassing halfway and rehab housing and were able to identify Granata as one of the suspects.

Granata had recently come to Arizona from Ohio. Fingerprints obtained from a note used in one of the Mesa robberies matched Granata's known fingerprints provided by Ohio law enforcement.

Detectives had Granata under surveillance and saw him leave a residence with two other people. Detectives followed them to the Knights Inn near Main Street and Extension Road where they saw Granata contact the clerk in the lobby then run from the motel to the waiting car.

Simultaneously, the Mesa Police Department received a report of a robbery at the Knights Inn and police were able to detain all three suspects without incident at the QuikTrip at Extension Road and Longmore.

Wessing said during in-custody interviews, Granata reportedly confessed to his involvement in the robberies and identified the second robbery suspect as Divito.

Granata, 18, was charged with six counts of robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Later that evening, Divito was located at the East Valley Addiction Council facility in Mesa where he was taken into custody without incident. When Divito was interviewed by detectives, he reportedly also made a full confession as to his involvement in the series of robberies, according to Wessing.

Divito, 20, was charged with four counts of robbery and two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Jonathan P. Frank, 23, faces two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery. Bradley L. Friend and a 16-year-old male were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.