LATEST: Purse snatching suspect faces 50 years in prison

Raleigh County

4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2019 UPDATE:  Raleigh County Prosecutor Kristen Keller confirmed James Lowe and Zachary Cernuto are each serving a 50-year sentence for their crimes.

4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, 2019 UPDATE:  A man from Crab Orchard is facing life in prison for a string of crimes which happened from April to May 2017.  Zachery Cernuto and his co-defendant James Lowe captured the attention of the community follow a violent purse snatching in front of Hobby Lobby.

Cernuto pleaded guilty to a laundry list of charges including 41 counts of Fraud with an Access Device, three counts of First Degree Robbery, Grand Larceny, Petit Larceny and Malicious Assault.  The last crime stemmed from the purse snatching incident involving an 86-year-old woman.

Cernuto is expected to be sentenced in front of Judge Dimlich on May 7, 2019.  In addition to three possible life sentences for the robbery charges, he faces 10 years for each fraud charge, one to ten years for grand larceny and two to ten years for malicious assault.

UPDATE: May 24, 2017: Two men charged in a string of purse snatchings waive their preliminary hearing Wednesday in Raleigh County.

Zachery Cernuto of Crab Orchard and James Lowe of Beckley, who are believed to be involved in a string of purse snatchings in the Beckley and MacArthur areas, waived their time window to have a preliminary hearing.

Cernuto and Lowe are still in jail and facing second degree robbery charges.

ORIGINAL STORY: Monday, May 15, an 86-year-old woman was dragged behind a car after she refused to let go of her purse, when two suspects tried to grab her purse from a moving car as she was coming out of Hobby Lobby in Beckley. Police said the woman had serious injuries to her arm and was transported to a local hospital. She is in stable condition. 

The Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office released the names of two suspects believed to be involved in the recent series of “purse snatchings” in the Beckley and MacArthur areas. The suspects are driving up to victims, grabbing their purse and speeding away.

Authorities have arrested Zachery Cernuto, 23, of Crab Orchard and James Lowe, 23, of Beckley. They are being held without bond on 2nd degree robbery charges.

Authorities also say be cautious of your surroundings at all times and keep your purse close to your body. 

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