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Norwich — Two city men arrested Thursday afternoon entered the home of a small-business owner and his pregnant wife and robbed them at gunpoint, police said, stealing thousands in cash and jewelry during the August home invasion.
James E. Alston, 31, of 96 River Ave. and John R. Factura, 23, of 187 Talman St. were arrested Thursday and each were charged with home invasion, first-degree robbery and third-degree larceny.
Factura also is charged with third-degree sexual assault, because he allegedly touched the pregnant victim's buttocks during the crime.
During arraignment Friday afternoon in Norwich Superior Court, Factura was ordered held in lieu of a $250,000 bond while Alston, who has a lengthy record of violent and drug-related felony convictions dating back to 1998, was held in lieu of a $350,000 bond.
According to an arrest warrant, Alston and Factura entered 204 Franklin St., Apt. 3, a multi-family residence above the Brazil Mart, around midnight on Aug. 16 through a back door.
Holding one resident at gunpoint, Alston and Factura then entered the bedroom of the business owner and his wife, ordering everyone down on the floor and stealing $9,470 in cash, jewelry and an iPhone.
The female victim told police she had $6,000 in her purse from the recent sale of the Brazil Mart, with which she planned to buy cooking grease for a new business she was preparing to open. After she got the cash to give the robbers, the woman said, Factura squeezed her buttocks.
As the suspects fled, the woman's husband threw an empty plastic display case at them. The woman ran to a balcony and watched as the men sped off north on Boswell Avenue in a dark vehicle. None of the victims was injured during the incident.
Police said the first break in the case came five days later when Luz Martinez, 36, who later admitted to being the getaway driver, identified Alston, whom she knew as "Bliss" or "Blizz," as one of the suspects.
Martinez later identified both Alston and Factura and admitted she drove them to and from the scene of the crime.
Police said more arrests are expected in the case. Immediately following the crime in August, police told The Day that the robbery "did not appear random."
Police arrested Alston on Aug. 27 on an unrelated domestic violence warrant and interviewed him about the home invasion. Alston admitted to having been involved but claimed he had been coerced by Factura, or "Twix," to whom Alston owed money. Alston told police he initially resisted but "(Factura) then showed (Alston) a handgun and (Alston) took that as a threat that he better assist in the robbery."
During their initial appearances Friday afternoon, Judge Kevin P. McMahon called the allegations "very serious charges" and said prosecutors had a good case. The next court date for the two men is Oct. 15 in Norwich Superior Court.