Lehigh Valley

Police allege Sonic employee helped in early-morning holdup

The Bethlehem teen's shift ended 3 hours earlier

HANOVER TWP., Pa. - Authorities in Lehigh County allege a Sonic Drive-In employee helped an accomplice rob the fast-food restaurant at gunpoint Thursday morning about three hours after his shift ended.

Pennsylvania State Police arrested Sean Fornes and Dominick T. Hogans in connection with the early-morning robbery of the Airport Road restaurant in Hanover Township. District Judge Michael D’Amore arraigned the two men late Thursday morning, setting bail for each at $100,000 with a 10 percent cash option.

State police with the Bethlehem barracks were dispatched to the Sonic shortly before 2 a.m. for a report of an armed man inside the building. Troopers arrived to find five people crouched outside, screaming that someone might still be inside, according to court records.

The building was cleared, and Allentown police reported retaining two men in the parking lot of the nearby BJ’s Wholesale Club, who were seen walking away from the Sonic. They were later identified as Fornes and Hogans.

A restaurant supervisor told police that she and another employee along with three friends were standing outside the Sonic having a cigarette, when a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a mask ran up to them carrying a handgun, according to records.

The armed assailant allegedly punched two men in the face and tumbled through the front door when he began struggling with one of the men. The assault victim scrambled out of the store, and someone called police. Police said someone peered into a window and saw a second man inside the store.

Once police arrived and cleared the restaurant, the supervisor discovered that roughly $400 was taken from three cash drawers, two of which were hidden in a place known only to employees. And the third drawer opened only in a way known to an employee, according to records.

An Allentown K-9 allegedly led police to a Sig Sauer BB gun tossed in the bushes.

The supervisor identified Hogans as the armed assailant and identified Fornes as an employee whose shift ended about 11 p.m. that night. She also told authorities that he’d know where the cash drawers are hidden and that he had allegedly asked recently about the store’s inoperable surveillance system.

Police allege they found $357 in Fornes’ sweatshirt. The 19-year-old Bethlehem resident denied any involvement, insisting he was walking home with a friend he met in the area of the Firestone store on Airport Road.

Hogans also denied he was involved in the theft, telling police he was walking home with his friend and that he tossed the BB gun he carries for protection when he saw police cars. Court records list the 21-year-old as living in Chester, Pa.

State police charged both men with 12 counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, theft, simple assault, receiving stolen property and harassment. They failed to post bail and were sent to Lehigh County Jail to await preliminary hearings tentatively scheduled for Feb. 16.

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