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St. Albans man gets 25 years in prison for gunning down Briarwood deli owner in 2021: DA

Jun. 16, 2023 By Bill Parry

An elderly St. Albans man on June 16 was sentenced in Queens Supreme Court to 25 years in prison for attempted murder as well as drug and weapons possession charges in the 2021 shooting of a Briarwood deli owner and the subsequent discovery of a large quantity of heroin in his home.

James Fraley, 73, of Farmers Boulevard was convicted by a jury last month of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.

According to the charges and trial testimony, on the afternoon of Aug. 12, 2021, Fraley entered the Rojas Deli at 146-10 Hillside Ave., ordered a sandwich and then shot the owner, Rufino Rojas-Flores, in the chest. He then turned the gun on the owner’s daughter who was working behind the counter and demanded the money in the register. The daughter gave him between $100 and $200 cash and Fraley fled. A deli worker chased him on Hillside Avenue toward the Parsons Boulevard subway stop. EMS responded to the crime scene and rushed Rojas-Flores to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where he was treated for injuries to his liver from the gunshot wound.

Surveillance video footage showed the worker running after an older man and also captured Fraley in the subway stop. The NYPD created a wanted poster from the video. On Aug. 17, an officer recognized Fraley from the wanted poster as he got into a car. The officer pulled Fraley over for a traffic violation and took him into custody.

When detectives went to Fraley’s St. Albans home, they found a .357 caliber revolver, a .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol loaded with six rounds of ammunition and a safe containing more than 12 ounces of heroin. Drug paraphernalia, including hundreds of glassine envelopes, were also discovered in the home. At the time of the shooting, Fraley was on lifetime parole for a 1989 murder conviction.

“A violent predator very nearly shot a small business owner to death for less than $200 and the guns and drugs found in his home pointed to more bloodshed and devastation ahead,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “The debt he will have to pay to society is a long prison sentence.”

Queens Supreme Court Justice Gary Miret imposed a determinate sentence of 25 years in prison to be followed by five years post release supervision.

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