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Press Release

Bronx Man Involved in Brazen Burglary Ring Sentenced to More Than 5 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that WILLIE BAINES, 47, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 63 months of imprisonment, with credit for time served since Baines’s March 2021 arrest in a related federal case, for participating in a brazen burglary ring that resulted in the theft of millions of dollars in vehicles, phones, ATMs and other merchandise from numerous locations in Connecticut, New York and elsewhere.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Baines participated in a theft ring that, between June 2020 and January 2021, primarily burglarized car dealerships and mobile phone stores in Connecticut and New York.  From dealerships, the group stole vehicle key fobs and vehicles, and from mobile phone stores they stole cell phones, electronics and other merchandise.  They also stole ATMs from check cashing businesses and burglarized video game stores.  Josepher Cartagena and Alexander Santiago planned and organized the burglary sprees, recruited Baines and others to participate in those burglaries, maintained inventories of the stolen property, sold that property, and then divided the proceeds among the participants.

Cartagena, Santiago, Baines and their associates committed more than 180 burglaries and stole more than $4 million in property.  They often burglarized multiple locations in one night and, on numerous occasions, escaped from police by engaging the police in high-speed chases that had to be terminated for safety reasons.  An apparent tally found on Santiago’s phone after his arrest indicated that he had engaged police in 89 chases.

Baines and his associates regularly carried firearms during the burglary spree.  On December 22, 2020, Baines was arrested by New York City Police on state charges after a high-speed pursuit and a foot chase.  Baines was driving a stolen vehicle that contained stolen property, and he possessed a firearm at the time of his arrest.  Baines continued to burglarize business while released on bond in his state case.

Baines has been detained since March 11, 2021, after his state firearm charge was adopted for federal prosecution in the Southern District of New York.  He pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and, on November 8, 2021, was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment.

On December 1, 2022, Baines pleaded guilty in the District of Connecticut to possession of stolen property.

Cartagena was arrested on December 23, 2020, after engaging law enforcement in multiple high-speed chases and collisions with law enforcement vehicles.  Cartagena dropped a bag containing a 9mm handgun and assorted tools during the pursuit.  A subsequent search of his residence revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise, more than 30 vehicle keys and key fobs, 9mm ammunition, and approximately $87,000 in cash.

Santiago was arrested on January 15, 2021.  When investigators sought to conduct a court-authorized search of Santiago’s residence on that date, Santiago’s pit bull attacked an FBI agent and badly wounded his arm.  A search of the residence revealed approximately 20 new cell phones in boxes, approximately 40 vehicle key fobs, a police radio, a glass-punch device, two firearms and a substantial amount of ammunition.

Cartagena and Santiago pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to 90 months of imprisonment.  A fourth co-conspirator, Douglas Noble, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 54 months of imprisonment.

This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Connecticut State Police, with the assistance of approximately 30 local police departments.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Ruff.

Updated April 5, 2023

Violent Crime
Firearms Offenses