By Bill Parry
Four men have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in two brazen bank heists, one in Rego Park and the other in Brooklyn, to more than 11 years in federal prison earlier this month.
Michael Mazzara, 45, and his crew of three stole more than $20 million worth of cash, jewelry, collectibles and other valuables from the banks’ safety deposit boxes and vaults in the spring of 2016. On both occasions, the burglars used acetylene blowtorches to cut into the tops of the banks’ vaults from the roof of the buildings at the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank branch at 64-19 Woodhaven Blvd. The crew shielded their activities from view by constructing a plywood shed on the roof of the bank, according to court filings.
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.
“By using blow torches to cut through bank roofs, and subsequently into vaults and safe deposit boxes, these defendants deprived hundreds of unsuspecting victims of their valuables, priceless heirlooms, and cherished keepsakes,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. “As a result, the defendants will serve serious prison sentences. We will now be able to reunite many of the stolen items, including religious artifacts, jewelry, baseball cards, and coins, with their rightful owners.”
Mazzara was facing a maximum of 20 years at his sentencing after pleading guilty in December to two counts of bank theft. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forest instead sentenced him to a more lenient 135 months in prison, as she put it “thanks to Mazzara’s decision” to return the cash and valuables, according to American organized crime expert Jerry Capeci on his Gang Land News site.
During the course of the investigation of the burglaries, the FBI and the NYPD executed multiple search warrants at locations in Brooklyn, Long Island, and Pennsylvania, and seized items that had been taken from safe deposit boxes during the burglaries. In total, more than 200 items that were stolen from safe deposit boxes have been recovered, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Forrest sentenced Anthony Mascuzzio, 38, of Brooklyn to 84 months, and three years of supervised release and Christopher Kerrigan, 41, of Staten Island to 90 months in jail. In addition to the burglaries, Charles Kerrigan, 42, of Brooklyn pleaded guilty to one count of witness retaliation while on pre-trial release, in connection with his assault of an individual who he believed had provided information about the burglaries to the FBI and NYPD. He was sentenced to a total term of 200 months in prison by Forrest.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr