Naperville robbery victims forced into freezer, prosecutor says

Updated 1/18/2012 3:44 PM
  • Travis J. Gamble

    Travis J. Gamble

  • Cory M. Paytes

    Cory M. Paytes

Two men accused in a string of suburban pizzeria robberies forced two of their victims to crawl into a freezer at gunpoint, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Travis Gamble and Cory Paytes, both 22, appeared in DuPage County bond court on charges of armed robbery, aggravated robbery and resisting a peace officer.

Authorities said the men were under police surveillance when they allegedly robbed a Papa John's Pizza on the 1200 block of West Ogden Avenue about 10:15 p.m. Monday in Naperville. The men entered the restaurant wearing ski masks and ordered a manager and another employee to crawl into a freezer at gunpoint, said Assistant State's Attorney Louisa Nuckolls.

"The defendants told the victims not to do anything because they had their IDs and knew where they lived," Nuckolls said in bond court.

Naperville police had been following the suspects for several weeks in collaboration with officers investigating similar pizzeria robberies in Lisle, Oswego, Plainfield, St. Charles and Yorkville. The men were arrested as they fled with the second employee's cellphone and about $2,200 in cash taken from registers and one of the victims, authorities said.

Nuckolls said the weapon turned out to be a pellet gun.

Gamble, of Oswego, and Paytes, of Montgomery, later confessed to additional robberies, Nuckolls said. She said Paytes told police there were 11 total and that he was "the brains" of the operation. Paytes told Judge Elizabeth Sexton in court Wednesday that he worked for Papa John's.

"Probably not anymore, huh?" Sexton said.

"Yes, ma'am," he replied.

Sexton set bail at $300,000 for Gamble and $1 million for Paytes, who was recently paroled on a seven-year prison term for armed violence and criminal damage to property. Nuckolls said Gamble has a prior conviction for misdemeanor criminal damage to property.

The men are due back in court next week. If convicted, they could each face up to 30 years in prison.

"These were dangerous suspects who needed to be caught," Naperville Police Chief David Dial said in a statement, calling their arrests "the result of a great multijurisdictional police effort."

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