Crew Responsible For More Than 45 Commercial And Residential Burglaries Charged With Interstate Transportation Of Stolen Property
The Crew Stole Approximately $10,000,000 In Cash And Property
Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed charging Victor Arias, Rafael Astacio, Michael Figueroa, Nikitas Margiellos, and Leonard Repka with conspiracy and the interstate transportation of stolen property.1 Astacio, who was a detective with the New York City Police Department at the time of the burglaries, was also charged with unlawfully accessing a database that was maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The defendants= initial appearances are scheduled for this afternoon before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco at the United States Courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Kathleen M. Rice, Nassau County District Attorney, George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Thomas V. Dale, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department, Toni Weirauch, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS), and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).
“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,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Nassau County Police Department for its work in the investigation, and to the Suffolk County Police Department for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation.
“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,” stated Nassau County District Attorney Rice.
“The defendants did not discriminate when choosing their victims: businesses and private residences were equal targets of their thievery. To facilitate their alleged illegal activity, the defendants used a combination of physical labor and modern technology, to include the unlawful access by Astacio of protected FBI information. As charged, Astacio not only turned his back on the community he promised to protect, he also betrayed his fellow law enforcement officers for a chance to line his pockets with his victims’ hard-earned money. As the arrest of these defendants demonstrates, no one is above the law. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who steal and violate the public’s trust will be brought to justice,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos.
“It is always a sad day when a member of the law enforcement community aligns himself with those who will hurt the public, choosing to abandon those he swore to protect,” stated IRS Special Agent-in-Charge Weirauch. The public should be secure in knowing, however, that the strong partnership between federal and local law enforcement authorities will work tirelessly to protect the public from harm and will strive to make the public whole when it is wronged.”
“The Internal Affairs Bureau thoroughly investigates allegations of members of the service, and their dedication to this Long Island-based case resulted in the indictment being announced today. The Department subsequently removed Astacio of his post and terminated his employment, and any of the members of the service considering criminal association faces the same,” stated NYPD Police Commissioner Kelly.
According to the indictment and court filings, between 2009 and 2012, the sophisticated burglary crew led by Nikitas Margiellos committed approximately three dozen commercial burglaries and ten residential burglaries in the Eastern District of New York stealing approximately $10,000,000 in cash and property. To carry out the burglaries, the crew used both traditional burglary tools, such as blow torches, crowbars, wire cutters, and sledge hammers, as well as modern technology, including cell phone jammers and police scanners. In addition, they often conducted surveillance of their burglary victims to determine when the victims would be out of their homes and businesses. On at least one occasion, the crew even installed a tracking device on a victim’s car to assist in that endeavor.
Additionally, as set forth in the indictment and court filings, in one instance, the defendants Arias, Figueroa, Margiellos, and Repka burglarized a business in Plainview, New York, entering that commercial establishment, while Astacio and another coconspirator monitored a police scanner and acted as lookouts. Arias, Figueroa, Margiellos, and Repka spent approximately three and a half hours in the business and stole more than 45,000 pairs of Under Armour, Hobie, and other sunglasses that were worth approximately $3,000,000. After the burglary, the defendants and their coconspirators transported the stolen property across state lines and sold some of the sunglasses on the Internet. During another burglary, members of the crew stole approximately $2,000,000 in cash from a plastic surgeon’s office located in Nassau County.
If convicted, Arias, Figueroa, Margiellos, and Repka each face a maximum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, and Astacio faces 17 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher C. Caffarone and Nassau County District Attorney’s Office Rackets Bureau Chief Rick Whelan, who will be cross-designated for this case as a Special Assistant United States Attorney.
Copiague, New York
Copiague, New York
Mount Vernon, New York
West Babylon, New York
Lindenhurst, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 13-CR-640