NEW YORK CITY — A Brooklyn man preyed on soused "college-age" and "touristy-looking" victims by forcing them to smoke crack as part of scheme to steal their money, federal prosecutors said.
Willie White, 46, of Weeksville, frequented The Wren on the Bowery in the early morning hours, often leaving with "intoxicated" men and women, police said.
He would then take his victims to an apartment on Eastern Parkway in Weeksville, where he'd "pressure or force" them to inhale a controlled substance authorities believed was crack-cocaine before stealing their bank cards and other items, officials said.
He withdrew more than $2,100 from at least two victims' accounts, and prosecutors say they're still searching for more possible victims.
“Willie White allegedly took advantage of intoxicated men and women at a Manhattan bar by taking them to another location and then further incapacitated them by forcing them to take drugs," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a press release.
He was charged with illegal use of a debit card and aggravated identity theft, and faces at least 15 years in prison.
His first known victim told police he blacked out between his time at the bar and the trip to Brooklyn in the early hours of April 23, ending up in an apartment with White, court documents say.
When he tried to leave, the suspect allegedly told him, "No you aren't leaving, lay down, just lay down."
He woke up hours later with his shoes, belt, wallet and phone missing. When he tried to get his property back, White told him it was in a safe, prosecutors said.
The victim fell asleep again on the couch, likely still under the influence, the complaint said. He finally fled without his property when he was taken to a nearby McDonald's.
On May 11, White found another victim at The Wren, taking her to a deli and a 7-11 to withdraw money from her debit account, officials said.
He brought her back to the apartment on Eastern Parkway, coercing her into smoking what she believes was crack.
When she tried to leave, he told her they were going to "drink more and get food," officials said. She fled a short time later with all of her property on her.
White tried returning to the bar the next day, but an employee stopped him, officials said.
"Why, is this about the girl?" he asked the staffer, according to prosecutors. "Just so you know, she got home safe."
Information about White's lawyer was not immediately available.
A message left at The Wren was not immediately returned.