Man gets prison for Xanax sale that turned into robbery at Kent County park

COMSTOCK PARK, MICH. - A man who used social media to arrange a hold-up at a popular Kent County park targeting a woman looking for prescription medication was sentenced to prison Tuesday, Nov. 1, for the August robbery.

Austin Ray Luft is one of two men who agreed to sell the woman Xanax, which is used to treat anxiety and stress.  She was directed to Dwight Lydell Park in Comstock Park, not far from Fifth-Third Ballpark.

She was robbed at gunpoint when she arrived to complete the deal.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston sentenced Luft to between three and 15 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay $90 in restitution.

The 20-year-old Lowell man was initially charged with armed robbery, but pleaded guilty last month to a reduced count of assault with intent to rob while unarmed.

His co-defendant, 18-year-old Seth Andrew Stepien, will be in court next week for a hearing on several charges, including armed robbery.

Luft met the victim on Snapchat, an online messaging system, and arranged an Aug. 20 meeting at the Kent County park.  She arrived, “thinking she was going to buy the pills,’’ investigators wrote in court documents.

Stepien, armed with a stolen 9mm handgun, was waiting in the wings. He took $90 at gunpoint, which he and Luft split, court records show.

Kent County deputies tracked Stepien to an apartment on Chasseral Drive NW, a short distance from the 39-acre park at Leland Avenue and West River Drive NE.

He jumped off a third-floor balcony and entered a neighbor’s apartment, where he was arrested, court records show. Deputies recovered a 9mm handgun which had been reported stolen in Kent County.

A third man, from Lowell, is charged with being an accessory after the fact to a felony for serving as the driver.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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