NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Three men accused of stealing more than $5 million in a series of bank thefts in two boroughs were facing federal charges Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and other federal and local officials announced the charges against Michael Mazzara, Charles Kerrigan and Anthony Mascuzzio, of Brooklyn.
As CBS2’s Steve Langford and Hazel Sanchez reported, FBI agents were all over normally quiet West 10th Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn on Tuesday. They were gathering truckloads of evidence — including what Federal prosecutors called burglary equipment — as outlined in the criminal complaint against the three men.
“These sophisticated bank burglaries had the makings of a movie plot,” said FBI New York Field Office Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton even said the case reminded him of one of his favorite bank robbery movies, the 1995 film “Heat.”
Bratton called the heist the “work of a crew that was well organized, meticulous being elusive to law enforcement.”
The HSBC bank on 13th Avenue and 44th Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn was broken into on the weekend of April 9, when burglars got in through an empty store next door and then through the bank ceiling. The burglars used flammable gas and a fire torch to cut through the roof and into the vault, the criminal complaint said.
“They found exactly what they were looking for — literally bundles of cash,” Bharara said, “over $330,000, as well as valuables customers kept safe in safe deposit boxes in the vault.”
“They left very few clues of the heist. Our crime scene team hunted for every shred of evidence,” added Bratton.
The suspects were also allegedly responsible for the burglary of Maspeth Federal Savings bank on Woodhaven Boulevard in Rego Park, Queens on May 24. Investigators said the suspects climbed a ladder up the back of a bank, cut a hole in the roof and ransacked through several deposit boxes before fleeing the scene.
The suspects even built a hut at on the roof to give them some cover, the complaint said.
Contents from several safe deposit boxes were taken and the boxes were left empty on the roof. According to officials, approximately $296,000 in cash was stolen, along with $4,340,000 in jewelry, diamonds and other valuables.
“It’s very, you know, I lost everything,” Tagua Demirchyan, of Middle Village, told CBS2 at the time of the incident. “They can’t do nothing, I don’t’ think so, they can’t do nothing.”
Investigators said Mazarra, Kerrigan and Mascuzzio were caught collecting supplies for the burglary: buying plywood, paint and gas tanks. Their credit card statements show all the purchases made at Home Depot.
Feds said in April the trio used the vacant storefront next door to the HSBC bank as headquarters, storing break-in supplies inside.
After the heist, they returned to their hangout, on the block where Kerrigan and Mazarra live, splitting their bounty. They were caught by the watchful eye of a strategically placed FBI camera.
At a Queens home registered to Mazzara’s family members, there was no interest in discussing the matter. At the address where the FBI raid went down, a young man leaving the home later also didn’t want to talk. But when asked if he ever suspected Mazzara was going to be
Sot: “Did you ever suspect that he was going to be charged with bank robberies? No”
Bob Pieklo said suspect Mazzara was loud and flashy.
“Nobody knew what he did — like I said, he didn’t have a job. The man was just standing outside all the time, yelling and screaming at the workers that were working on the house,” Pieklo said.
Pielko said Mazzara was seen with “lots of nice toys — trucks, cars boats, motorcycles, ski jets.”
Suspect Anthony Mascuzzio was the son of Anthony Mascuzzio Sr., a reputed mobster shot and killed at a Manhattan disco in 1988.
Charges against the suspects include bank burglary and conspiracy to commit bank burglary.
Authorities said victims of the robbery might get their valuables back if police can track down safe deposit boxes.