Fake Robberies, Fake Guns, Fake Threats Over Real Pizza, Gas and Cigarette Money
FlaglerLive | December 1, 2010
See if you can keep up with this weird one. It takes some doing—keeping up with the story, that is, and conducting oneself as James R. Linskey, a 23-year-old pizza delivery man for Bruno’s Pizza on Old King’s Road in Palm Coast, is alleged to have conducted himself.
The story begins at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 30), when a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to Forest Hill Drive off of Old Kings Road in north Palm Coast on a robbery call. Linskey was parked on the side of the road in his green 2002 Chevy Blazer. He was upset. He was nervous. He told this tale: he’d just made a pizza delivery when, heading for Old Kings Road, a woman flagged him down and said she needed her car restarted with jumper cables. Linskey agreed to help. But when he started the operation a Hispanic man got out of the car, pointed a gun at him, ordered him to give him all his money, yelled at him to kneel, put his hands behind his back and not look at him. Linskey complied, putting $35 at the man’s feet. The man took the money, got back in the car and the pair took off. The car apparently did not need a jump.
When Linskey told that story to the deputy, a search was started for the alleged Honda with the alleged robbers. But something seemed off. When Linskey told the story of the robbery to the deputy, he also said that immediately after being robbed he called his boss at Bruno’s Pizza to ask what to do, at which point his boss told him immediately to hang up and call 911 to report the robbery. Linskey hung up. But he waited five minutes to call 911.
Meanwhile, a deputy drove Linskey around, looking for the Honda involved in the supposed robbery. A Honda matching the description Linskey had given earlier was found in James Holland Park. But Linskey said it wasn’t the car. Linskey was allowed to go. Deputies examined the scene of the alleged robbery. They noticed the tire tracks from Linskey’s car. They saw no other tire tracks. There couldn’t have been another car parked where Linskey said there’d been one.
The deputy investigating the scene then made contact with a neighbor whose house had a view on the whole scene. The man at that house told the deputy that he’d seen Linskey park his car, get out, pace up and down, talk on his cell phone, then get back in his car until the deputy arrived. There’d never been another car. Never been a robbery.
It was time to pay Linskey a visit at his home at 26 Buffalo Bill Drive. The deputy told Linskey of the series of discrepancies—the absent tire marks, the delayed 911 call, the neighbor’s observations.
Linskey owned up to having made up the whole thing. True, there’d never been a robbery, at least not by the invented Hispanic. The robbery was committed by another man.
This is where it gets a bit complicated, because that other man does, as it turns out, exist, even though the robbery did not. The other man is Joshua (or Joshue, depending on what report you look at) Venegas, a 24 year old from Holly Hill. Linskey told the deputy that he owed Venegas $60, and had owed him that money for a long time. Venegas kept calling him. And calling him. And calling him. He called him that night and told him to meet him on Forrest Hill Drive, where Linskey went. Linskey didn’t specify where on Forest Hill Drive. When the two men met, Venegas pulled out a gun and told him to give him all his money or he’d beat him up. So Linskey gave him the $60 he owed him plus the $35 he’d taken in from pizza deliveries for Bruno’s. Venegas then got in his car and took off.
Why not own up to that story from the start, the deputy asked Linskey. Because, Linskey said, he was afraid that accusing Venegas would cause Venegas to have him “jumped or shot.” The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office put out an alert on Venagas, and found he had an active outstanding warrant on two unrelated charges dating back to July (possession of cocaine and a controlled substance). He was located at his last known address in Holly Hill, where he was picked up and later charged with armed robbery with a deadly weapon.
Venegas was real. Linskey’s robbery story was not. Venegas told deputies that he’d woken up that day at 6 p.m., gone to the store, bought milk and cigarettes, ordered pizza and stayed home all evening. (The pizza was presumably not ordered from Bruno’s, some 30 miles away). He said he didn’t even know Linskey, and claimed Linskey was—according to the deputy’s wording in the sheriff’s report—“probably a crackhead that spent his delivery money on drugs and used his name to get out of trouble.”
For the first time that evening, deputies were possibly hearing a glimmer of truth, though Venegas was booked into jail anyway on his outstanding warrant, and later released on $350 bail. The armed robbery charge was dropped.
As it turns out, Linskey retracted his statement about Venegas and again changed stories. This is the one he stuck with, and deputies used, to stick him in jail: Linskey simply took the Pizza delivery money and used it to buy gas and cigarettes. He was not charged for that swipe. He was charged for making a false report of a crime, and two additional counts of false reports to law enforcement. No bond was set. He was released on his own recognizance. His booking sheet lists him as unemployed.