MILWAUKEE - Four Milwaukee men are now charged in connection with a pair of robberies of mail carriers in the city. The accused include 17-year-old Jose Federico-Flores, 18-year-old Jesse Hernandez, 21-year-old Christian Lara-Maldonado and 18-year-old True Serwin. They face the following criminal counts:
Armed robbery (two counts each - Federico-Flores, Hernandez, Lara-Maldonado, Serwin)
Flee or elude an officer (Serwin, Hernandez, Federico-Flores)
Resisting an officer (Federico-Flores, Hernandez, Lara-Maldonado, Serwin)
Felony bail jumping (Serwin)
According to the criminal complaint, each of the four defendants were involved in two armed robberies of postal workers on Monday, Nov. 6. The complaint says evidence shows that all four of the above-named defendants were present and knew the robberies were going to be committed.
Hernandez provided a gun for both, Serwin was the driver for both, Lara-Maldonado admits to directly participating in both and informs the police that Federico-Flores directly participated in both," the complaint says.
The complaint goes on to say "all actors sold the key taken from the second mail person together. All actors were in the same car, which was used to commit the robberies when the police started the pursuit together, and according to Serwin, they were all in it together."
Robbery near 12th and Holt
The complaint indicates the first armed robbery happened on S. 12th Street just south of Holt Avenue around 10:20 a.m. on Nov. 6. The mail carrier told police she was delivering mail when "she observed all three subjects were armed with black semi-automatic handguns. She stated they all "racked" their handguns and suspect #1 stated, "give me everything you got". She then handed suspect #1 her cellphone and her key to the USPS mail carrier vehicle. She stated suspect #3 removed her mail bag from her shoulder and the package scanner which was in a holster on her right hip. She stated suspect #2 stood by the other suspects but did not speak or take items from her. (The mail carrier) stated inside her mail bag was miscellaneous mail and her personal dog repellent
spray which she has for her protection," the complaint says.
The mail carrier told police "about five minutes prior to being 'robbed' she observed the same subjects on the corner of S. 12th Street and W. Morgan Avenue." She also provided descriptions of the suspects. Her cellphone was tracked and later recovered near 31st and Cleveland.
"That’s messed up, I’m going to be honest," said Fernando Romo, who lives nearby. "It’s getting really bad."
Robbery near 48th and Euclid
Around 11:15 a.m. on Nov. 6, Milwaukee police were dispatched to a second armed robbery of a mail carrier near 48th and Euclid. The carrier in this second instance told police "three suspects intentionally and without consent, while armed, removed a set of keys from his belt and a set of Arrow Keys from his carrier bag which (the mail carrier) stated he gave to the suspects. (The mail carrier) stated this happened while he was inside of his USPS Parcel Van," the complaint says.
The complaint says the mail carrier noticed three subjects standing in an alley nearby and they "were suspicious because they were wearing black hoodies with the hoods up and black masks covering their mouths and noses in the warm weather."
The mail carrier went on to say when he arrived back at his mail truck "two of the subjects that were standing on the corner had him at gunpoint while the third subject stood behind him. All three subjects stated, ‘give up the arrow key!’ One of the subjects pointed a black semi-automatic handgun to his forehead and the other had some type of longer gun that wasn't a handgun pointed to his body. He explained the tip of the gun and described that under the barrel was a red tip. He thought the gun was fake because of the red tip. The subject behind him grabbed around his waist and took the remote key fob to the mail truck. The subjects demanded the arrow key, so (the mail carrier) reached into his bag where he carried it and handed it over," the complaint says.
An officer who was dispatched to this second robbery spotted three subjects running in an alley nearby as he approached the area.
A couple of hours later, two other officers on patrol spotted a car exiting an alley that was suspected in one of the mail robberies. They attempted to initiate a traffic stop -- but the driver of the car, later identified as Serwin, sped away. A police chase ensued -- and lasted approximately 18 minutes, the complaint says.
During the pursuit, the complaint says Lara-Maldonado bailed from the fleeing vehicle in an alley and tried to get away on foot. He was arrested a short time later.
Three other people in the car being chased bailed from the vehicle near 30th and Cherry. The complaint says Hernandez was arrested in an alley after a brief foot pursuit. During that foot chase, the complaint says Hernandez dropped a black handgun as he was running.
The complaint says Serwin was "found to be hiding in the gangway...under a sheet of cardboard." He tried running from police but was arrested.
The fourth passenger from the vehicle escaped being caught by police.
When authorities searched the vehicle that had been pursued, they found a couple of handguns, a Daisy BB gun rifle, a black mask, and a single unfired cartridge -- among other identifying items.
When police interviewed defendant Serwin, he "admitted to being involved in both robberies. Serwin stated he was the driver," the complaint says -- and he provided details about the crimes including who else was involved. Serwin stated "they were all in it together."
The other defendants provided similar stories about being involved in the two robberies. Federico-Flores said they "were driving around in the Honda on the south side of Milwaukee looking for a postal carrier." The complaint says Lara-Maldondao "stated he didn't know about the female postal worker, but stated he was there for the male postal inspector."
Hernandez, Lara-Maldonado and Serwin made their initial appearance in Milwaukee County court on Sunday, Nov. 12. Cash bond for Serwin was set at $150,000 – and $75,000 for the other two. Federico-Flores is set to make his initial appearance on Nov. 20.
"I feel safe that they got caught, but it still goes on," Romo said. "The crime here still goes on. It doesn’t stop."