By Bill Parry
Four men have pleaded guilty to blow-torching their way into the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank branch in Rego Park, and another bank in Brooklyn in the spring of 2016, making off with more than $5 million in cash, jewelry, collectibles and other valuables form vaults and safety deposit boxes, U.S. officials said last Friday.
Michael Mazzara, Charles Kerrigan, Anthony Mascuzzio and Christopher Kerrigan formed the crew that used acetylene torches to cut into the top of the banks’ vaults from the roofs of the buildings, according to the criminal complaint file dby the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.
At the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank branch, located at 64-19 Woodhaven Blvd., sometime between May 19 to the 22, the four men shielded their activities from view by constructing a plywood shed on the roof of the bank. The burglars then entered the vaults from above and took cash belonging to the bank and broke open customers’ safe deposit boxes, stealing the valuables inside, according to the indictments.
An employee of the bank discovered the hole when opening the premises July 23 and called the NYPD.
Surveillance footage captured some of the gangs’ activities as they prepared for and executed the burglaries. Financial records and video surveillance also showed Mazzara and Mascuzzio purchasing some of the supplies that appear to have been used in the Queens burglary, federal prosecutors said.
At the time of their arrests in July 2016, then-police Commissioner William Bratton likened the burglaries to scenes from the movie “Heat,” calling the crews’ plan “well organized, meticulous and elusive to law enforcement.” The 1995 Michael Mann-directed film starring Al Pacino and Robert de Niro follows a group of professional bank robbers who unknowingly leave a clue for investigators.
The crew robbed an HSBC branch in Borough Park, Brooklyn, from April 8-10, 2016
All four defendants pleaded guilty at separate Manhattan federal court hearings and will be sentenced later this year, according to prosecutors. Mazzara and Mascuzzio of Brooklyn and Kerrigan from Staten Island face maximum sentences of 10 years apiece while Kerrigan, from Brooklyn, is facing a maximum sentence of 20 years. He pleaded guilty to one count of witness retaliation while on pre-trial release, in connection with the assault of an individual whom he believed had provided information regarding the burglaries to the FBI and the NYPD, the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office said.
“Like a scene from a movie, these defendants used blow torches to cut into bank roofs, and subsequently vaults and safety deposit boxes, to steal more than $5 million in cash and customer valuables,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said. “But the scene in court today was of guilty pleas under oath and the prospect of real-life prison.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr