MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A former New York City police detective is one of five men accused of operating a $10 million burglary ring.
Federal prosecutors say Rafael Astacio, 41, is also accused of illegally accessing an FBI database as part of the scheme.
Police and prosecutors say that between 2009 and 2012, the ring committed more than 45 commercial and residential burglaries on Long Island. The federal indictment of the five men was unsealed Thursday.
“The defendants 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. 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,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in a statement.
Authorities said the suspects used tools like sledgehammers, wire cutters and blow torches – along with cell phone jammers and tracking devices – as part of their alleged burglary ring, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
In one notable theft, prosecutors say about 45,000 pairs of fashion sunglasses valued at $3 million were taken from a Plainview business. Some of the sunglasses were then sold on the Internet, authorities said.
The ring also allegedly stole approximately $2 million in cash from a plastic surgeon’s office in Nassau County.
“When a police officer or any public servant breaks the law it casts a pall on all men and women who risk their lives and work hard to serve their communities. Detective Astacio and his fellow defendants betrayed the public trust by using Long Island homes and businesses as personal piggybanks, and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
Astacio and the four others are expected to make their initial court appearances later Thursday in federal court in Central Islip, N.Y.
If convicted, Astacio faces up to 17 years in prison. The other four defendants, identified by prosecutors as Victor Arias, Michael Figueroa, Nikitas Margiellos and Leonard Repka, each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
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