US Attorney, FBI Nab ‘Band of Criminals’ in Stolen Property Ring that Includes NYC Cop Who Allegedly Stole FBI Records
Five men are facing conspiracy and stolen property charges while one, a former New York City Police officer, is also being charged with stealing information from an FBI database.
United States Attorney Loretta Lynch said that those arrested "were part of a sophisticated burglary crew that victimized Long Island businesses and residents for more than three years. Each defendant had a role to play in this band of criminals. The crew relied upon weapons of force as well as modern technology to steal millions from both homes and businesses alike."
In the written release Lynch specifically addresses the alleged actions of 41-year old Rafael Astacio, from Copiague, a former New York City Police detective. She says, "The defendant Astacio's actions make clear that he was a police officer in name only, having sold his badge and his honor in exchange for his share of their ill-gotten gains...Detective Astacio and his fellow defendants betrayed the public trust by using Long Island homes and businesses as personal piggybanks..."
In addition to Astacio, 37-year old Victor Arias from Copiague, 52-year old Michael Figueroa of Mount Vernon, 40-year old Nikitas Margiellos of West Babylon, and 50-year old Leonard Repka of Lindenhurst are also being charged.
In court papers authorities allege that the burglary crew was led by Margiellos and committed about three dozen commercial and ten residential burglaries, netting about ten million dollars in cash and property. In addition to "traditional burglary tools, such as blow torches, crowbars, wire cutters, and sledge hammers" the group allegedly used cell phone jammers and police scanners to conduct surveillance on their victims. Investigators believe that a tracking device was installed on one victim's car to assist with the robbery.
In another case cited by investigators more than 45,000 pairs of sunglasses, worth approximately three million dollars, were stolen from a business in Plainview, New York. The defendants allegedly spent three hours in that facility, with two monitoring police scanners and acting as lookouts.
If convicted the defendants each face a minimum of fifteen years in prison.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nassau County Police Department, Internal Revenue Service, New York City Police Department, and Nassau County District Attorney assisted the US Attorney's Office in the investigation.