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High-Tech Burglars Indicted

What authorities are calling a "brazen, high-tech burglary crew" is suspected of stealing more than $10 million worth of cash and property through more than 50 commercial and residential burglaries, including Scents Forever in Hicksville. Five crew members were recently indicted on state charges by a grand jury.

“This brazen crew used local homes and businesses as their personal piggybanks and with so much stolen over so long a period of time, this was a highly organized, systematic, professional team of criminals,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

Crew ringleader Nikitas “Nicky” Margiellos, 33, of West Babylon; Gerard Camarano, 54, of Valley Stream; and Trung Lu, 32, of Ridgewood, were arraigned earlier this month in Nassau County court. Two unnamed co-defendants have not yet been arrested. The defendants were indicted for two counts of burglary in the third degree and two counts each of possession of burglar’s tools, which can add up to a maximum possible sentence of anywhere from four to 16 years in prison. The crew also includes Rafael “Ray” Astacio, who was an NYPD detective at the time of his participation and was released on $2,500 bail. Further charges are anticipated against these and other defendants as the investigation continues.

Investigators, who have dubbed the case “Operation Crook, Line & Stinker” due to the defendants’ use of the term “fishing” as a code for their burglaries, found the crew to have stolen cash and property from 51 commercial and residential properties, including 21 in Nassau County, between 2009 and 2011. Commercial and residential establishments in Hicksville, Carle Place, Westbury, Mineola, and numerous communities throughout Nassau County were burglarized by the crew. The commercial establishments included doctors' offices, cigarette warehouses, high-end leather goods stores, restaurants, a meat warehouse and a coin store. More burglaries are suspected and cold cases are being re-investigated for matches to this crew.

During a portion of the investigation, which included court-authorized wiretaps, detectives intercepted phone conversations in June 2012 where crew members discussed committing a residential burglary in Suffolk County. Members of the Nassau County Police Department’s DA Squad along with members of the FBI and Suffolk County Police Department set up surveillance on the target location on the night of the burglary. Crew members Joseph Alacqua and Michael Brown were observed entering the vacant home and minutes later exiting the residence with the homeowner’s personal property. When the crew members entered the getaway car driven by Astacio, they were arrested. This case is pending in Suffolk County Court.

Following this burglary and extensive physical surveillance by law enforcement, members of the NCPD DA Squad executed a court-ordered search warrant at Omega Storage in Amityville. The search resulted in the seizure of such burglar’s tools as a cellular telephone signal jammer, jack hammers, saws, drills, acetylene torches, radio chargers, a hydraulic floor jack, pry bars, bolt cutters, grinders, sledge hammers, axes, a dog catcher pole, gloves and ski masks.

Police say that the crew is linked to many unsolved burglaries because of distinct patterns that have emerged from the investigation. For example, the crew often cut telephone lines to disable alarms and used cellular telephone signal jamming devices to stop the back-up alarms from notifying the alarm companies’ central stations. At other times the crew gained access to commercial establishments by cutting through the wall of an adjoining building. The crew often targeted cash businesses and if successful, the business owner’s residences were then burglarized. The crew used GPS devices on business owner’s vehicles to locate the owner’s residence and to track the owner’s movements over an extended period of time so as to develop a pattern in their routine. With nearly all the burglaries, crew members conducted extensive Internet searches and physical surveillance of target locations prior to, in their terms, “going fishing.”

In order to avoid members of law enforcement, crew members used disposable phones, walkie-talkies and police scanners with the appropriate precinct frequency codes.

Federal charges have also been brought against several members of the crew, including Margiellos.

News

You could say Darren Butler has quite the entrepreneurial disposition. The Hicksville resident not only founded a church, but invented a doorstop that does not require screwing any holes into your wall or door. The device simply clamps on to the bottom of any sized door without requiring tools.

“I never envisioned myself as being an inventor,” explained Butler. “I became one by accident and out of frustration.”

After Butler and his wife purchased their home, they wanted to decorate and maintain it.  “We have four children and at the time we wanted to minimize the damage that occurs from doors slamming into walls because as young children do; they have a tendency to aggressively open doors, and as a result the door knob created holes in our wall,” said Butler. “We purchased conventional doorstops so at the very least we could minimize that reality if not eliminate it all together.”

The Hicksville Fire Department hosted the Nassau County Parade and Drill Championships this past Saturday, an event that was entertaining for both guests and participants.

The Motorized Drill competition held in the morning had 16 participating fire departments. The drill included eight events and each racing team was judged based on how fast they completed each event. Events included the Three Man Ladder, Motor Hook and Ladder, Motor Hose, Efficiency, Motor Pump, and Buckets. The Hicksville Hicks came in fifth place and received a trophy.


Sports

Madeline Huffman, a fourth grade student at Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville, recently became the New York State Free Throw Champion in the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Competition, 9 Year Old Girls Division at the United States Military Academy, West Point.

Huffman’s journey to the state championship began at her home parish, Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church in January. The local qualifier was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Joseph F. Lamb Council #5723. Boys and girls ages 9 through 14 competed, each receiving three warm up shots and 15 free throw attempts.

This November, Hicksville resident Marlo Signoracci will head to Florida for Ironman, a demanding, long-distance triathlon that includes biking, running and swimming. Here, she shares her story as she prepares for one of the most physically challenging athletic events out there.

“I meet my goals and maintain my health. I stay mindful of what is important to me and seek balance in all endeavors. With gratitude, I am fully present to this moment in time.”


Calendar

Hicksville Street Fair

July 20

Blood Drive

July 23

Our Lady Of Mercy Family Festival

July 30 - August 3



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com