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Three Maspeth residents are headed to prison for targeting elderly homeowners in a series of burglaries in 2016, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced on July 24 that Tony Cristo, 37, and his ex-wife Teresa Howard, 38, both of 69th Street in Maspeth were each sentenced to 10 years in prison plus five years of post-release supervision for their roles in the crimes. Cristo’s sister, Rosie Cristo, 34, of 69th Lane in Maspeth was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and 2 1/2 years of post-release supervision.

“These despicable defendants targeted senior homeowners in the neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Flushing and Maspeth during the summer months of 2016,” Brown said. “The defendants, in some instances, pretended to be a granddaughter or a former neighbor to gain entry and at times would be accompanied by a pre-teen girl to distract the homeowners and steal their money and valuables. The sentence imposed by the court today is more than warranted and punishes the defendants for their criminal acts.”

Brown also noted that, under the New York State Hate Crimes Act of 2000, enhanced charges can be filed when a defendant is alleged to have selected a victim because of their age which is defined as being 60 years of age and older. Tony Cristo and Howard both pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary as a hate crime, and Rosie Cristo pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted burglary as a hate crime.

According to one criminal complaint, a 91-year-old woman was in her Flushing home on 50th Avenue on July 25, 2016, when an unapprehended female entered the home through the unlocked front door and claimed to be the homeowner’s granddaughter.

Minutes later, the homeowner’s daughter entered the home, confronted the suspect and escorted her out of the home where she observed the suspect enter a green Pontiac with Tony Cristo in the driver’s seat. The homeowner’s daughter then approached the vehicle, told Cristo to leave and said she was calling the police.

In a second criminal complaint, an 83-year-old Maspeth woman was inside her 56th Drive home on Aug. 10, 2016, when her doorbell rang and the homeowner observed Howard and Rosie Cristo together with a 10-year-old blonde female child. Howard and Cristo told the homeowner they wanted to speak to the upstairs tenant. When told that the tenant wasn’t available, the two women asked for a pen and paper to leave a note and then left with the child.

Hours later, the homeowner discovered that her purse was missing, which contained $60 in cash, photographs, a non-driver’s identification card and medical insurance cards.

That same morning, Howard and two unapprehended male and female suspects along with a 9-year-old girl entered a home on 69th Street in Jackson heights and asked the homeowners — a 90-year-old man and his 88-year-old wife — if they could look at construction work that was happening in the home, according to another complaint.

The female homeowner was in her bed in the bedroom when Howard and the unapprehended female entered the room claiming to be former neighbors of the homeowner, but they were not known to her.

Howard and the female suspect then asked about family photos on the victim’s dresser and then one of them asked the woman for a tissue. After Howard and the unapprehended suspects left, the victim discovered that $6,400 in cash was missing from the top drawer of her dresser.

Ten days later on Aug. 20, 2016, an 86-year-old Flushing man was in his Benham Street home when he heard a knock on the door and let Howard inside believing that she was a woman he knew named “Maria.” He later realized that she was not Maria, according to the complaint.

The homeowner offered Howard cookies and coffee, and Howard asked to use the bathroom on at least 10 occasions, during which time the homeowner could hear her using her phone in the bathroom. It is unknown if any valuables were taken from the home, the complaint states.

Lastly, a 61-year-old Flushing man was in his Woodside Avenue home on Aug. 26, 2016, when two women — one heavyset and the other slim — entered his home. The slim woman asked to use the homeowner’s bathroom while the other while the heavyset woman sat in the kitchen eating cake.

After a few minutes, both women left the home and the homeowner realized that approximately $200 in cash that was rolled up in a rubber band was missing from his dresser drawer, as well as a Chase credit card that had been in his wallet in the drawer.

Police then observed Tony Cristo in the driver’s seat of a green Mazda as Rosie Cristo and Howard were walking away from the vicinity of the residence and got into the Mazda. When police stopped the vehicle, they recovered cake and a sum of cash rolled up with a rubber band. The credit card was recovered in the police car that transported Howard to the precinct.


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