by sean i. mills Staff writer



A Rome man was beaten and robbed near the Liberty Car Wash Sunday night after law enforcers said two men lured him to the scene by posing as a flirtatious woman on Facebook.

Be careful when accepting a ‘friend request’ from a total stranger.

Police said Joseph Allen, 23, of West Court Street, and Jason Pingry, 27, of North James Street, are both charged with one count each of second-degree robbery for attacking the man and stealing his cell phone and cigarettes. Both men were taken into custody Tuesday evening.

Detective Commander Timothy J. Bates said that the victim had started conversing with a woman via Facebook, and this upset Allen, who is an acquaintance of the woman. Bates said "Allen created a Facebook page under the name of a fictitious female and contacted our victim" Sunday afternoon.

Using a fake profile and picture, Bates said Allen convinced the victim that he was a real woman, and over the course of the afternoon, they arranged to meet near the car wash in the 300 block of W. Liberty St.

The victim went to the car wash at about 11:30 p.m. to meet "what the victim believes is a female who is flirting with him," Bates explained.

Allen and Pingry met the man at the car wash and struck up a brief conversation, Bates said, in order to "verify" that the victim was the man they wanted.

Bates said Allen and Pingry then attacked the man, repeatedly punching and kicking him. The two men then stole the cell phone and cigarettes and fled.

The victim walked several blocks to the Justice Building on North James Street to report the incident. Bates said the victim was treated at Rome Memorial Hospital for minor injuries to his face and back.

Allen and Pingry were held in lockup overnight to await arraignment this morning in City Court.