Seaside police Lt. Ron Allen said taped telephone conversations in Monterey County Jail between parolee Marcus Crooms, 24, and his girlfriend Michele Chioino, 26, revealed a conspiracy to commit a robbery that investigators say turned out to be the bingo game heist at the popular community center in Seaside.
Crooms and Chioino pleaded not guilty Thursday at their arraignment in Salinas. Both were charged with four felony counts of robbery. Each count was coupled with a gang enhancement. Both were also charged with conspiracy to commit robbery. One enhancement for a prior prison sentence was attached to Crooms’ charge.
Using vaguely coded language, Crooms gave instructions to Chioino to coordinate and buy supplies for a robbery, according to law enforcement documents. Crooms mentioned that the robbery should focus on two men manning a table, the documents say.
Miguel Hernandez, Chioino’s attorney, said she is being unfairly persecuted because of the criminal histories of some members of her extended family. One of those people is Patrick Hernandez Chioino, who in 2002 went on a 22-hour shooting and crime rampage that included robberies, carjackings and a police shoot-out in Watsonville.
“I believe the Seaside Police Department has gone way beyond proper decorum and are singling her out because of her name. I believe they are harassing her,” Hernandez said.