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Details revealed in alleged South Hadley shakedown

Four Holyoke men each pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Hampshire Superior Court to multiple charges in connection with the incident.

Francis Frisino, 49, Jose Hernandez, 47, Damaso Rodriguez, 50, and Michael Bowler, 43, all pleaded not guilty before Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder to charges of unarmed robbery, assault to rob (unarmed), felony nighttime breaking and entering and possessing a class B drug (crack cocaine).

Frisino and Hernandez also pleaded not guilty to additional charges of possessing a class A drug (heroin). Hernandez also faces a charge of witness intimidation.

According to police reports, about 7:15 p.m. the four men came looking for the alleged victim at a friend’s home, believing she had stolen a large amount of cash from Hernandez earlier in the day.

The four men allegedly stopped the car the woman was driving and Frisino pulled her from inside, began choking her and punched her in the face, police said.

The men surrounded her, demanding the missing money. Hernandez allegedly grabbed the woman’s purse and took $113, according to the criminal complaint included in court files.

And then, according to the criminal complaint, Hernandez and Frisino allegedly pulled the woman back into the apartment and told her she was going to be strip-searched to look for more money.

She managed to separate herself from the men and locked the rear door of the apartment while calling police.

Hernandez allegedly forced his way in through the front door of the apartment and forcibly removed the woman’s clothing looking for his money.

The men fled the apartment and were stopped by South Hadley police based on a description of their vehicle.

According to police, the men admitted they were at the apartment and had gone there to collect cash that belonged to Hernandez.

Heroin and crack cocaine were found in the car, but the men all denied ownership, police said.

Frisino and Hernandez were both found carrying crack cocaine and Frisino was also carrying heroin, according to police.

The alleged victim was taken to a hospital for treatment of her injuries, according to police.

At their arraignment, Rodriguez and Frisino were ordered held on $2,000 and $1,000 cash bails, respectively. Hernandez was released on $1,000 bail already posted in Eastern Hampshire District Court, and Bowler was released on his own recognizance on the condition he have no contact with the alleged victim.

All four men are due back in court Sept. 5 for a pre-trial hearing.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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