Two more suspected members of an alleged burglary crew accused of stealing $10 million worth of cash and property across Long Island over a two-year span have been rounded up, authorities said.
Nassau, Suffolk and federal investigators said the suspects—one of whom is an ex-NYPD detective—are now believed to have broken into more than 50 homes and businesses after stalking their victims online, in-person and with GPS tracking devices.
“This was a highly organized, systematic, professional team of criminals,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Thursday, adding that the alleged crew spoke of burglary in code as “going fishing.”
The alleged ringleader, 33-year-old Nikitas “Nicky” Margiellos of West Babylon, who previously pleaded not guilty to federal charges, has been indicted in Nassau County court on added counts of burglary and possession of burglars’ tools.
Also indicted on the same charges were the two newly named suspects, 54-year-old Gerard Camarano of Valley Stream and 32-year-old Trung Lu of Ridgewood, prosecutors said. All three pleaded not guilty Thursday. Another pair of suspects was also charged in Nassau, but their names were not immediately released because they have yet to be apprehended, investigators said.
The new charges stem from two alleged burglaries—at DSW Shoe Warehouse in Carle Place and Scents Forever in Hicksville—that led investigators to Omega Storage in Amityville, where the suspects allegedly stored burglar’s tools such as a cell phone jammer, jack hammer, acetylene torch, a hydraulic floor jack, bolt cutter, dog catcher pole and masks.
FBI agents, Nassau and Suffolk detectives allegedly caught the ex-New York City detective, Rafael Astacio of Copiague, driving the getaway car for two of his co-defendants, Joseph Alacqua and Michael Brown, as all three fled a June 2012 burglary, authorities said.
The investigators had used wiretaps to listen to the suspect plan that break in—despite the crew using disposable phones, walkie-talkies and police scanners to evade detection—before authorities staked out the location to catch them in the act, prosecutors said.
Brown had pleaded guilty in Suffolk court last year to attempted burglary. Alacqua pleaded not guilty to burglary. Astacio pleaded not guilty to charges announced last fall.
Authorities said the suspects were linked to the break-ins after distinct patterns emerged, such as the crew cutting phone lines to disable alarms, cutting through the wall of a neighboring business to get at their targets and then burglarizing victimized business owners’ homes.
The crew has been accused of 28 Suffolk burglaries, 21 Nassau break ins, one case in Queens and another in Westchester so far, although the investigation is continuing and more charges are expected. Businesses they hit include doctor’s offices, perfume warehouses, cigarette warehouses, leather goods stores, restaurants a meat warehouse and a coin store.
Three suspects facing previously announced federal charges include 50-year-old Leonard Repka of Lindenhurst, 52-year-old Michael Figueroa of Mount Vernon and 37-year-old Victor Arias of Copiague.
Bail for Camarano and Lu on the latest charges was set at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond. Margiellos’ bail was set at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. They each face up to 16 years in prison on the new counts.