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Thursday, November 14, 2013

NYPD detective busted in $10M theft spree

CENTRAL ISLIP (WABC) -- A grand jury has indicted alleged members of a sophisticated burglary crew that victimized Long Island businesses and residents for more than three years and stole more than $10-million in cash and property.

Victor Arias, Rafael Astacio, Michael Figueroa, Nikitas Margiellos, and Leonard Repka are charged with conspiracy and the interstate transportation of stolen property.

Astacio, who was a detective with the New York City Police Department at the time of the burglaries, was also charged with unlawfully accessing a database that was maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"The crew relied upon weapons of force as well as modern technology to steal millions from both homes and businesses alike," United States Attorney Lync said. "(Astacio) sold his badge and his honor in exchange for his share of their ill-gotten gains."

"As charged, Astacio not only turned his back on the community he promised to protect, he also betrayed his fellow law enforcement officers for a chance to line his pockets with his victims' hard-earned money," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos said.

According to the indictment and court filings, between 2009 and 2012, the sophisticated burglary crew led by Nikitas Margiellos committed approximately three dozen commercial burglaries and ten residential burglaries in the Eastern District of New York stealing approximately $10,000,000 in cash and property.

To carry out the burglaries, invesitgators said the crew used both traditional burglary tools, such as blow torches, crowbars, wire cutters, and sledge hammers, as well as modern technology, including cell phone jammers and police scanners.

They allegedly often conducted surveillance of their burglary victims to determine when the victims would be out of their homes and businesses. On at least one occasion, authorities said the crew even installed a tracking device on a victim's car to assist in that endeavor.

In one instance, investigators said Arias, Figueroa, Margiellos, and Repka burglarized a business in Plainview, New York, while Astacio and another coconspirator monitored a police scanner and acted as lookouts. 

According to investigators, they spent approximately three and a half hours in the business and stole more than 45,000 pairs of Under Armour, Hobie, and other sunglasses that were worth approximately $3,000,000. They allegedly took the stolen property across state lines and sold some of the sunglasses on the Internet.

During another burglary, members of the crew allegedly stole approximately $2,000,000 in cash from a plastic surgeon's office located in Nassau County.

If convicted, Arias, Figueroa, Margiellos, and Repka each face a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment, and Astacio faces 17 years imprisonment.

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