Busted For Woodside, Flushing Thefts
An 18-year-old Long Island man has been indicted on charges of burglary and robbery as hate crimes in connection with three separate incidents on the same day in Flushing and Woodside in which he and several unapprehended cohorts duped elderly men into allowing them into their homes and stealing valuables.
The suspect was identified by Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown as Justin Frank, 18, of Brentwood, who was arraigned on Monday, Mar. 4 before Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas on an 18- count indictment variously charging him with burglary in the first and second degree as a hate crime and robbery in the first and second degree as a hate crime.
Frank was ordered held on $250,000 bail and to return to court on Apr. 17. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
“In just one day, the defendant is alleged to have participated in three burglaries in which the victims were targeted because of their ages,” Brown said in a statement. “It is truly despicable that the defendant would allegedly prey on defenseless men and violate the sanctity of their homes. Crimes such as those alleged in this case can not be tolerated.”
According to the charges, teh incidents took place on Aug. 28, 2012, with the first incident occurring at the home of a 91-year-old man in Flushing.
Reportedly, the victim was standing in his driveway when he was ap- proached by Frank and several unapprehended others. One of the individuals allegedly claimed to have been a former neighbor of the victim and asked to be allowed into his house to write down his new address so that the victim could visit.
Law enforcement sources said Frank allegedly picked up an envelope while inside the house, presumably to write down his new address. The men allegedly pushed and slapped the victim and threatened to kill him, then took his cell phone, cash from his pocket, and his eyeglasses.
The group also allegedly forced him into the basement, placing a pointed stick at his neck, threatened to kill him and took additional cash.
Approximately two hours later, prosecutors said, a 92-year-old Woodside man was taking out the garbage when he was approached by some men who allegedly stated that they were from the water company and needed to check a broken pipe. They allegedly pushed their way into the living room and the defendant and the other unapprehended males allegedly entered the home.
The males allegedly took money from the victim’s living room, pushed him to the floor and fled the house.
Finally, it is alleged that, a few minutes later and a few blocks away in Woodside, a 77-year-old man was home with his wife when some men knocked on his door and claimed to have done work for him years earlier. Frank allegedly asked for a glass of water and blocked the victim at his refrigerator while the other men allegedly wandered around the house. All of the men then left together.
Afterwards, the victim checked his wallet which he had left on the dining room table and noticed that it had been moved and that money was missing from it.
Reportedly, Frank’s fingerprints were allegedly a match to the fingerprint left on the envelope in the first incident and the fingerprint left on the water glass in the third incident.
Under the provisions of New York State’s Hate Crimes Act of 2000, Brown noted, enhanced charges can be filed when a defendant is alleged to have selected his or her victim because of their disability and/or age which is defined as being 60 years of age or older.
Det. Thomas Castle of the NYPD Queens Robbery Squad investigated the case under the supervision of Sgt. Ronald Buell, Capt. Jason Savino and the overall supervision of Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski. Assisting in the arrest were Det. Robert Scudieri and Sgt. Bronson Jusino of the North Bergen Police Department in New Jersey.
Additionally, Brown thanked Social Worker Mary H. Hayes of the Elder Abuse Project, which is under the supervision of Director Laurie K. Woods.
Assistant District Attorney Kristen A. Kane, chief of the District Attorney’s Elder Fraud Unit, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gregory C. Pavlides, bureau chief, and Christina Hanophy, deputy bureau chief, of the District Attorney’s Economic and Environmental Crimes Bureau and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.
It was noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.