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Astoria Fugitive Found Overseas

Wanted For 2005 Astoria Park Sex Assault Case

A former Elmhurst Hospital Center employee who fled abroad more than six years ago has been extradited from the Netherlands to face charges that he sexually assaulted and attempted to kidnap a nine-year-old girl from Astoria Park in August 2005, the Queens County District Attorney announced.

Peter Belegrinos, 30, whose last known New York address was on 24th Street in Astoria, was arraigned on Friday, July 20 before Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory L. Lasak on a seven-count indictment charging him with one count of second degree attempted kidnapping, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, one count of third-degree assault, and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Belegrinos, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, was ordered held without bail and to return to court on Aug. 13.

Belegrinos was originally arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Aug. 9, 2005, on the sexual assault charges and bail was set at $50,000, which he posted. On Jan. 23, 2006, he failed to appear in court and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Belegrinos was arrested in February 2011 at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on an arrest warrant obtained by the Queens District Attorney’s Office stemming from the case and had been fighting extradition since that time.

According to the criminal charges brought in 2005, Belegrinos approached three children-a boy and girl, both nine years of age, and a 12- year-old girl-on August 8, 2005 at Astoria Park, and asked them to play a game that he described as a “kissing game.”

Though the children allegedly ran from Belegrinos, he chased after them. Reportedly, the younger girl yelled for help but Belegrinos was able to grab the girl’s leg, causing her to fall, and punched her on the side of the head before lifting up her skirt and sexually abusing her.

Belegrinos was apprehended shortly thereafter as adult passers-by, alerted that the children were in trouble, called 911.

“We have waited more than six years for the defendant to once again face justice and answer the charges that he is a child predator whose alleged offenses are said to have occurred in a public area in broad daylight,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown in a Friday, July 20 statement. “That long, overdue day has finally arrived.”

District Attorney Brown expressed his appreciation to the Koninklijke Marechaussee (The Royal Netherlands Military Police); Robbert de Groot, Deputy Director- General for Political Affairs for the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice; and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Timothy J. Wallach, who is assigned to the Netherlands, for their assistance abroad in the investigation.

Brown also thanked Supervisory Special Agent Ronald Hendren, FBI detailee to INTERPOL; Senior Trial Attorney Judith Friedman, Trial Attorneys Kevin Smith and Lynn Holiday and Paralegal Glenn Stewart of the U.S. Department of Justice; Deputy U.S. Marshals Donald P. O’Hearn, Edward McMahon and Timothy A. Williams; NYPD Detectives Adam Heege, Mario Muniz and Joseph Trovato, who are assigned to the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force; Special Agent Thomas Kilbride of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Sergeants James McDaniels and Thomas Bomengo of the Port Authority of NY & NJ Police Department; and Det. David Gilbert of the District Attorney’s NYPD Squad for their assistance in the investigation.

The extradition process was conducted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Alix Kucker, supervisor of the District Attorney’s Extraditions Unit, and paralegal Mariska Mooklal, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Therese M. Lendino, bureau chief, and Patricia A. Malloy, deputy bureau chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney James Quinn and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney Robert J. Masters.

Assistant District Attorney Lucinda C. Suarez, deputy chief of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Marjory D. Fisher, bureau chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Major Crimes Charles A. Testagrossa and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Major Crimes Daniel A. Saunders.

It was noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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