SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 19, 2011

Man charged in masked holdups questions search

Suspect is accused of robberies at Peabody Borders, Salem PetSmart

By Julie Manganis
Staff writer

SALEM — The man charged with two holdups while wearing a rubber mask like ones worn by characters in the movie "The Town" is asking a judge to bar prosecutors from using the mask, as well as a cache of weapons, body armor and police gear found in a car he had rented in March.

Raymond Wallace, 34, of Salem is facing charges in connection with robberies at Borders Books and Music in Peabody in December and at PetSmart in Salem in March.

He's also charged with illegal firearms possession, use of body armor in a felony, carrying a dangerous weapon, burning a vehicle and being a habitual criminal.

Police and prosecutors allege that in both cases, Wallace, wearing the rubber mask, forced employees who were about to close for the night to return to the store at gunpoint, then robbed them. The vehicles used in both incidents were later found burning in the same area off Swampscott Road in Salem.

Wallace was on parole for burglarizing a farm stand near his Waltham condo while dressed in a ninja costume and having a cache of high-powered weapons in 2001.

Because of that, Salem police were able to obtain the assistance of Wallace's parole officer, who obtained a warrant for his arrest on the basis that he had violated his curfew.

It was after that arrest that police looked in the trunk of a rented car and found the rubber mask; two guns, including the one believed used in the second holdup; ammunition; a bulletproof vest; a police scanner; zip-tie handcuffs; a light that flashed red, white and blue like a police car's lights; and a pair of bolt cutters, along with $1,800 in cash.

But in a motion filed yesterday, Wallace and his attorney, Raymond Buso, contend that the parole officer had no legal basis to obtain an arrest warrant, since "I had never been told of, nor did I sign, any paper that informed me of a curfew as a condition of my parole."

Buso also contends that Salem police and the parole officer were illegally on Wallace's property when they searched the car, which was parked in a garage. Buso says the parole warrant was simply obtained as a pretext to allow police to gain access.

Prosecutors will have the opportunity to file a formal response to the motion prior to a hearing on Oct. 21.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or jmanganis@salemnews.com.