YORK, Maine — Two men who are facing federal charges of conspiring to commit a robbery at a Rowe Falls Lane house last May anticipated that they would be able to steal $100,000 to $200,000, which they needed because one of the men had lost cocaine worth thousands of dollars.
The information is contained in a recently unsealed redacted complaint against Eric Mercado, 32, of Lowell, Massachusetts, arrested in Georgia earlier this week, and Steven Hardy, 42, of Maynard, Massachusetts, arrested in Maynard. The charge against them is filed as a violation of the Hobbs Act, which prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce.
The two men are charged with conspiring to rob a Rowe Falls Lane residence owned by a man identified in court records as “R.S.”
R.S. was targeted because he is “a person known to be involved in the cultivation and/or distribution of marijuana. The goal of the robbery was to obtain marijuana and the proceeds of marijuana sales,” according to the complaint.
R.S. was injured by a gunshot wound in the May incident but fled the scene. On Saturday, police were called again to Rowe Falls Lane for another shooting. Although York police did not confirm nor deny that the two incidents took place at the same residence or involved the same victim, neighbors say both took place at the same address and involved R.S. As in the first case, the resident was also injured by a gunshot wound on Saturday.
The FBI, which is investigating both incidents, said in a statement that investigators believe the recent shooting in York was a targeted act of violence, and said the victim suffered life-threatening injuries. “As it remains an active, ongoing investigation, no further details will be released,” the FBI said in a statement.
The complaint against Mercado and Hardy was filed by the York County sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Kassa, assigned full time to the FBI’s Safe Streets Gang Task Force. The complaint lays out the following facts:
Nathaniel Rivera of Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, a third federal defendant, called R.S. earlier in the day and said he “was with two girls and asked R.S. if he wanted to have him come over and party” with the women. One of the women was later identified as Mercado’s wife, Rhiannon Mercado.
The complaint detailed cellphone texts between Mercado and a co-conspirator named as CD-1 in the days leading up to the incident, with plans for robbing R.S. When CD-1 texted Mercado about why the robbery had to happen on May 10, he replied “because I’m dead F***ING broke and was rich a week ago.”
In a statement that R.S. gave investigators, Rivera arrived with the two women that night, and all four consumed alcohol and, ultimately, ended up in a hot tub. While they were in the hot tub, two masked men later identified as Mercado and Hardy entered the home, one with a shotgun and the other, a handgun. They ordered R.S. into a bathroom, but he refused and attempted to flee, which is when he was shot in the foot.
One of the men told R.S. that others were waiting outside and would kill him “if he did not pay a debt.” R.S. then grabbed a liquor bottle, hit the man and fled to a neighbor’s property.
Law enforcement responded to the scene and obtained a search warrant for the house. They found a handgun in the driveway. Inside, they found bullet holes and spent shells, broken alcohol bottles, and “equipment consistent with the cultivation of marijuana in the residence (though law enforcement did not locate any growing plants).”
More arrests appear to be likely. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Perry in a separate document filed Monday sought the unsealing of the redacted complaints against Mercado and Hardy, but other complaints remain under seal.
“The government believes all of the defendants will be arrested within a short period of each other, and … the government will seek to unseal the unredacted complaint when all defendants have been arrested,” Perry wrote.