GLADWIN — In the early morning hours of Tuesday, Jan. 25, Gladwin County Sheriff’s Deputies and a Gladwin City Police Officer responded to a report of an armed robbery in Billings Township. Officers responded to the area and made contact with the victim who was identified as a 59 year old male Gladwin County resident.
The victim told the officers that he had been robbed at gun point. The victim reported that the suspects struck him in the head, forced their way into his vehicle and restrained him with nylon zip ties. The victim also stated that he had been robbed of his money, wallet, medication and personal items from his wallet. The suspects reportedly transported the restrained victim in his vehicle and later dumped him out on the roadway near Arapahoe Trail and Jones Rd. The suspects then abandoned the victim’s vehicle near the intersection of Jones and Estey Roads. The perpetrators fled the area in a blue minivan.
Investigators collected evidence from the scene and began actively pursuing an investigative lead. On Feb. 9, an arrest warrant was issued for one of the suspects, Joseph Matthew Villarini, 23, from Lincoln Park. On the afternoon of Feb. 10 into the morning of Feb. 11, Deputies were assisted in their investigation by Downriver Area Narcotics Organization (NARCO). Gladwin Officers joined efforts with DRANO and were able to locate and arrest Villarini Just after he had allegedly completed a drug sale in Wyandotte, Michigan.
The DRANO team assisted Gladwin County Sheriff Officers in recovering property which officer believe had been stolen from the Gladwin County victim. The stolen property was recovered during the execution of a search warrant at a residence in Wyandotte where Villarini was known to stay.
Officers were also able to locate and investigate the vehicle which was allegedly used during the commission of the armed robbery. The vehicle was identified as a 2007 Chrysler Minivan registered to a friend of Villarini.
Gladwin Deputies identified Gregory James Pilon, a 21 year old Wyandotte man as having also been involved in the armed robbery. Pilon was placed under arrest and later transported to the Gladwin County Jail.
On Feb. 14, investigators from the Gladwin County Sheriff Department arrested Charles Steven Zunich, an 18 year old Billings Township man for his involvement in the armed robbery.
Gladwin County Sheriff Department was assisted in this investigation by DRANO, Michigan State Police Metro South Post, Wyandotte Police Department and the Lincoln Park Police Department.
Villarini was arraigned Monday in 80th District Court. He is charged with Armed Robbery, Conspiracy to Commit Unarmed Robbery, Unlawful Imprisonment, and Felony Firearms. Preliminary Exam is set for Feb. 28.
Pilon was arraigned Feb. 11. He is charged with Armed Robbery, and Conspiracy to Commit Unarmed Robbery. Preliminary Exam is set for Tuesday, Feb. 22.
Zunich was arraigned Monday, Feb. 14. He is charged with Armed Robbery-Conspiracy and Armed Robbery. Preliminary Exam is set for Monday, Feb. 28.
The investigation remains open and additional persons of interest are under review for criminal charges.