Man pleads guilty in Dara’s robbery

By Katherine Wartell

A Manhattan man pleaded guilty Monday to robbing a convenience store here in February. Officials believe the crime is related to a deadly arson at a Manhattan apartment complex.

Frank Hanson, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. In his plea, Hanson admitted that on Feb. 6, 2013, he robbed Dara’s Fast Lane on Claflin Road. Another man, Dennis Denzien, 20, Manhattan, was charged with the same crime. He did not change his plea and is awaiting trial.

In Hanson’s case, Jim Cross, public information officer for U.S Attorney Barry Grissom, said Monday, the Riley County Police Department received a report of a robbery at Dara’s Fast Lane at about 1:21 a.m. on Feb. 6.

A masked man brandishing a small revolver demanded money from the register, Cross said. The robber also tried to force the clerk to use an ATM in the store to withdraw money from the clerk’s bank account. The robber left the store after the clerk swiped his card through the ATM and showed the robber how little money there was in the clerk’s account.

Cross said that at about 6 p.m. on the same day, Riley County police responded to a report of someone firing a weapon at parked cars. When police contacted the residents, Denzien and Patrick Scahill, they smelled marijuana.

After obtaining a search warrant, officers found clothing matching the description from the robbery at Dara’s in their 1838 Anderson Avenue apartment. Cross said police obtained a second warrant and found a mask, gloves, a backpack and the firearm used in the robbery, an RG Industries Model RG14 .22-caliber revolver.

Hanson’s sentencing is set for July 8. He faces a penalty of not less than seven years and not more than life and a fine up to $250,000.

Virginia Griese, 19, Manhattan, and Patrick Scahill, 20, Manhattan also appeared in federal court Monday. They are both charged with arson resulting in death.

Cross said they have scheduled change of plea hearings for April 17 at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Julie Robinson.

Their indictment alleges that on Feb. 6, 2013, Scahill and Griese were responsible for a fire at the Lee Crest Apartments, 820 Sunset Ave., in Manhattan. Vasanta Pallem, a 34-year-old postdoctoral researcher at Kansas State University who lived in the apartment complex, died from smoke inhalation following the fire.  

Grissom alleged the pair poured gasoline down the lower level of the complex before setting it on fire.

Officials have not specified how the burglary and arson are related.

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