Federal agents have charged three Brooklyn men who allegedly broke into a Rego Park bank in May and stole more than $4 million in cash and valuables from safe deposit boxes, prosecutors announced on Tuesday morning.
Michael Mazzara, 44, Charles Kerrigan, 40, and Anthony Mascuzzio, 36, allegedly used acetylene torches to cut into the roof of the Maspeth Federal Savings branch at 64-19 Woodhaven Blvd. on the weekend of May 20-22 and gain access to the safe deposit boxes inside the vault.
The trio have been under investigation for their alleged roles in an ongoing pattern of bank burglaries across the city dating back “over the past several years,” according to court documents provided by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In addition to the Rego Park caper, the suspects were also charged for the April burglary of an HSBC bank on 13th Avenue in Brooklyn.
“Through their brazen bank heists, the defendants allegedly stole not just people’s money, but their memories too, leaving in their destructive wake gaping holes and looted vaults,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
“Left with few clues after the heists, our crime scene teams hunted for every shred of evidence,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton added, noting that the burglaries were “the work of a crew that was well organized, meticulous and elusive to law enforcement.”
The FBI and NYPD Major Case Squad cracked the case through surveillance footage taken from Mazzara’s home, where a court-authorized recording device captured images of criminal activity prior to and following the burglaries. This included the transportation and preparation of devices, tools and equipment purchased from a Home Depot store in Brooklyn and used in the break-ins.
The Maspeth Federal burglary took place between 9:30 p.m. on May 20 and 3 a.m. on May 22. According to court documents, the suspects along with an unidentified co-conspirator brought grinding wheels, oxygen tanks and acetylene tanks onto the roof of the bank. They also erected a plywood structure painted black in order to shield themselves from public view while cutting their way into the bank.
Once inside the vault, authorities said, the crooks removed $296,000 in cash and currency, diamonds, jewelry, coins, baseball cards and other valuables totaling $4.34 million from safe deposit boxes that bank customers kept in the vault.
According to court records, a security alarm at the branch had been tripped twice during the burglary. It went off at 1 a.m. on May 21 but was reset 20 minutes later; the alarm went off again at 2 a.m. that morning. Police, however, would only be alerted to the bank just after 8:30 a.m. on May 23, after a Maspeth Federal employee discovered the hole in the roof while opening the branch for business.
Detectives found the oxygen and acetylene tanks, the plywood structure, other tools used in the burglary and empty safe deposit boxes strewn across the roof of the branch.
The branch was shut down for more than a week as law enforcement agents and bank officials conducted investigations. Maspeth Federal reassured customers whose safe deposit boxes were compromised that they would work with them to file claims for the damages.
Mazzara, Kerrigan and Mascuzzio were each charged with conspiracy to commit bank burglary and two counts of bank burglary; they each face up to 25 years behind bars if convicted. Additional charges are pending the results of an ongoing investigation.
On its website, Maspeth Federal released a statement thanking detectives for their efforts: “We appreciate the fine work by the NYPD and FBI that resulted in the arrest. The burglary was a terrible experience for our customers and the community, and we are glad the arrest part of this is behind us.”