JEFFERSONVILLE — Two women and one teen have been arrested in connection with what police are saying was a staged armed robbery at a Sellersburg business this week.

Elizabeth M. Phillips, 40, and Angel M. Sabarna, 29, are charged with multiple felonies including armed robbery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with the Sept. 9 incident. Both are being held in Clark County jail on a $20,000 cash-only bond.

Court records show that Sellersburg police were dispatched to the Dairy Queen at Triangle Drive just before 5:30 a.m. Monday on a report of an armed robbery. There they spoke with Sabarna, who told police she had been robbed by a man with a knife and a gun, who had been wearing a dark hoodie, grey pants, gloves and a baseball hat. She said the suspect had made her put deposits from the safe into a bag, took the phone from the wall and left.

Surveillance footage showed the suspect with a knife to Sabarna's neck and a gun to her back as she put money into what appeared to be a Spectrum bag. The suspect then left the business.

Police became suspicious of the details when it appeared to one officer that the suspect in the video was actually female. Further investigation showed that Sabarna's roommate, Phillips, had been recently fired from the restaurant for stealing money. They went to the residence where they found Phillips and the teen.

On searching the home, police say they found a knife that looked like one in the surveillance video, a backpack with five and 10 dollar bills and a Spectrum bag.

Later questioned by police, the suspects had conflicting statements. The teen told investigators Sabarna and her boyfriend had come up with a plan for the teen to rob her to help get money for Phillips. The teen said they gave her the clothes to wear, a Florida knife and a fake gun, saying they would give her $50 for her part in it, and that Phillips would get $500.

"Angel said she would instruct me through everything since the cameras have no sound," the teen told police, court records show.

Sabarna told police that the robbery had been set up by Phillips and the teen, and that the girl had threatened to kill her if she did not give the deposits to her at the restaurant.

"I was afraid for my life," Sabarna told police, court records show. "I was told she was going to kill me. I would not believe in years that this was going to happen to me."

She later changed her story, telling police the robbery had been "all planned out" and that she had known about it. She said she had driven the teen to Dairy Queen with her that morning for the staged robbery, and that Phillips, who was waiting in a nearby parking lot, took the teen with her after she had the money.

Both women are charged with a level 2 felony for contributing to the delinquency of a minor under 16 years old. Phillips is also charged with a level 6 felony for theft between $750 and 50,000 and a level 3 felony for armed robbery. Sabarna is additionally charged with three level 3 felonies for armed robbery.

A not guilty plea was entered on behalf of both women during initial hearings Thursday in Clark County Circuit Court No. 4. They have pretrial conferences scheduled for Oct. 16 with a jury trial set for March 3.

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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