The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 18, 2012

Police: Robber used infection threat

By Courtney L. Saylor
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — A man apparently thought the threat of an infectious disease would be enough to get a cashier to cough up cash Monday night at a Sharon Internet sweepstakes cafe.

Fred L. Parker, 41, of 166 Orr Road, Coolspring Township, was charged with robbery and making terroristic threats for walking into Lucky’s Internet Cafe, Sharon Gallery plaza, 869 E. State St., and starting to touch the walls and machines, claiming he had a staph infection.

Police Chief Mike Menster said Parker then approached the cashier and demanded money. Parker told the clerk if he didn’t cooperate, he’d touch him and infect him with the antibiotic-resistant MRSA staph infection.

“It’s our first case of robbery by threat of an infectious disease,” Menster said.

Parker also gave the cashier a note identifying himself as an “officer with the U.S. gambling commission,” Menster said.

Parker told the cashier he had a deadly and highly contagious disease and offered to walk away if the cashier gave him money, police said.

The cashier refused, and Parker left.

Customers and the cashier gave police a detailed description of Parker and he was arrested without incident a short time later at Rite Aid, 811 E. State St.

Lucky’s is one of several Internet sweepstakes cafes that have opened in the area in the last year. There, people buy phone cards and play computerized games like poker and craps.

The cafes currently skirt Pennsylvania gaming laws by using the cards with predetermined outcomes. They don’t sell alcohol.

Parker was arraigned by District Judge Dennis M. Songer, Sharon, and taken to Mercer County Jail after failing to post bond.

A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 1.