Spike In Drugging Robberies At Bars Has Caused At Least Five Deaths

Investigators say criminal crews intended to incapacitate people and rob them at nightclubs and bars in New York City by poisoning them with narcotics.

Police and prosecutors said Thursday that at least five killings occurred over the past month, apparently committed by different crews operating independently but using similar tactics.

The scam starts when the criminal slips the victim dangerous levels of drugs to knock them out, then steal their wallets and phones, sometimes using their digital banking information to drain their accounts.

A 29-year-old chef was found dead on a sidewalk after celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at a bar in March.

A 25-year-old social worker died in a taxi after leaving a Manhattan bar with a group of men in April. Later, relatives discovered that some of his savings had been stolen.

John Umberger, 33, a political consultant visiting from Washington D.C., died of an apparent drug overdose in his townhouse in May. A surveillance video shows him leaving a popular club propped up by men. His bank account was also emptied.

Many men have told stories of being drugged by strangers and finding their money gone when they woke up.

A Bronx man, Kenwood Allen, was charged on Thursday with murdering Sherpa, 26, and Ardijan Berisha, 26. Other crimes remain unsolved, but the Manhattan district attorney announced that Allen was a suspect.

In July, Berisha, of South Salem, New York, and a friend passed out on Manhattan’s Lower East Side after drinking at a bar.

Prosecutors said Allen drugged both of his victims with fentanyl, then robbed them. He is also accused in three other cases in which the victims survived.

Allen’s sister told the Daily News that her brother is innocent.

Lauren Allen, 39, said her brother wasn’t a murderer. “She said he’s always taken care of his family, his mother, and his sisters. He’s not in any gang, not on drugs, not robbing people.”

Investigations are ongoing in the other killings, which remain unsolved.