Indictment Charges 4 Men with Stealing Millions in Vehicles, Phones and Other Merchandise
Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced the unsealing of a 13-count superseding indictment that charges four men with federal offenses related to their alleged theft of millions of dollars in vehicles, phones, ATMs and other merchandise from numerous locations in Connecticut, New York and elsewhere.
The superseding indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury in Hartford on February 16 and unsealed yesterday, charges JOSEPHER Y. CARTAGENA, 25, of the Bronx, N.Y.; ALEXANDER J. SANTIAGO, 26, of the Bronx; DOUGLAS NOBLE, 27, of the Bronx, and JUSTIN J. HERRERA, 21, formerly of Levittown, N.Y.
As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, Cartagena, Santiago, Noble and Herrera are members of a theft ring that burglarized car dealerships, mobile phone stores, and check cashing businesses in Connecticut and elsewhere, often burglarizing multiple locations in one night. From dealerships, they stole vehicle key fobs and vehicles; from mobile phone stores, they stole cell phones, electronics and other merchandise; from check cashing businesses, they stole ATMs. They then transported the stolen property back to New York, often escaping from police by engaging the police in high-speed chases, which the police must terminate for safety reasons.
Members of the theft ring are suspected to have committed more than 130 burglaries and stolen millions of dollars in property.
The indictment charges each of the defendants with one count of conspiracy to possess and transport stolen vehicles and property, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. The defendants are also charged with various counts of transportation of a stolen vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, transportation of stolen property and possession of stolen property. These offenses carry a maximum term of 10 years on each count.
On December 23, 2020, when law enforcement first attempted to arrest Cartagena on a federal arrest warrant, Cartagena dropped a firearm and was able to escape by ramming multiple FBI vehicles with his vehicle, which was stolen. Investigators apprehended Cartagena late that night after an all-day search. A court-authorized search of Cartagena’s residence revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars of suspected stolen merchandise, more than 30 vehicle key fobs, various license plates, 9mm ammunition, and approximately $89,000 in cash.
On January 15, 2021, when investigators sought to conduct a court-authorized search of Santiago’s residence, Santiago’s pit bull attacked an FBI agent and badly wounded his arm. Santiago was arrested, and 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.
Herrera was arrested in Florida, where he had recently moved, on March 10, 2021.
Noble surrendered to law enforcement yesterday.
Cartagena and Santiago are detained, and Herrera and Noble are released on bond.
Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Connecticut State Police, with the assistance of numerous local police departments.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Ruff and Michael S. McGarry.