FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
ATM Burglary Ring Indicted for Alleged Theft of
19 ATMs and Other Items from Stores and Bodegas
Six Men Charged for Break-ins in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx;
Allegedly Monitored Police Scanner to Evade Detection
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, today announced that six men have been variously charged with burglary, grand larceny, conspiracy and other counts in connection with a scheme to break into stores and steal ATMs and other property. The 92-count indictment covers incidents from June 2022 until January 2023, when four of the defendants were arrested in LaGuardia Airport following a 30-minute high-speed chase. Many of the heists were captured on video surveillance.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “With today’s indictment, we have dismantled a brazen and persistent alleged burglary ring that targeted small businesses throughout the city. It took meticulous work to build this case and I am thankful to the investigators and prosecutors who put it together. Protecting businesses from break-ins and larceny is an important mission of my office and this case shows our commitment to spending the time and resources necessary to stop criminals from victimizing store owners.”
Commissioner Sewell said, “These charges put an end to the multi-borough burglary-and-theft spree that potentially netted the defendants tens of thousands of dollars. This lucrative scheme undermined public safety in New York City, and today’s indictment is the next step toward holding these men accountable for their numerous crimes. I commend and thank the NYPD investigators and prosecutors of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office who worked closely on all aspects of this important case.”
The District Attorney identified the defendants as follows: Alex Torres aka “Chacho,” 50, charged with 80 crimes relating to 17 incidents; Francisco Torres aka “Fusion,” 51, charged with 62 crimes, relating to 13 incidents; Jesus Cedeno aka “Capone,” 52, charged 55 crimes relating to 12 incidents; Angel Barbosa aka “Pucci,” 44, charged with 48 crimes relating to 11 incidents; Chris Moustakos aka “Chris the Greek,” 52, charged with eight crimes relating to one incident; and Luis Villanueva aka “Cholo,” 52, charged with six crimes relating to one incident. The defendants all reside in Brooklyn, except for Moustakos whose address is in Roosevelt, LI. Charges against additional individuals who have assisted the ring are possible.
The defendants are variously charged in a 92-count indictment with second and third–degree burglary, second-, third-, and fourth–degree grand larceny, possession of burglar’s tools, criminal mischief and other related counts. Alex Torres, Cedeno, Barbosa and Villanueva were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who ordered them held on bail and to return to court on June 7, 2023. Francisco Torres and Moustakos will be arraigned on a later date.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, from June 23, 2022 to January 18, 2023, the defendants allegedly engaged in a conspiracy to steal ATMs from various stores. It is alleged that they used apartments in Clinton Hill and East New York to prepare for the burglaries. Based on the recovery of police scanners and other evidence, the ring allegedly assigned a member to monitor police scanners during the heists, so they could alert the others if police were approaching and to evade detection.
Based on the investigation, which included review of surveillance footage, members of the ring allegedly used bolt cutters and other tools to gain access to stores and then rocked the ATM machines back and forth to dislodge them. Their roles in the alleged burglaries varied, according to video surveillance, but, generally, Alex Torres allegedly broke the bolts securing the ATMs and then helped carry them out of the stores. Francisco Torres allegedly was frequently the driver and helped to break stores’ doors. Barbosa and Cedeno allegedly generally acted as lookouts and also helped with breaking into stores. Moustakos allegedly participated in the final burglary. Villanueva allegedly participated in an early burglary.
On October 26, 2022, Angel Barbosa was arrested for possession of a police scanner. Days later, on November 1, 2022, he was arrested in possession of two stolen ATMs, after he attempted to flee apprehension and drove into an occupied unmarked police car, injuring two officers.
The ring grew more cautious after that but continued the alleged heists, the investigation found. On January 18, 2023, Alex and Francisco Torres, Cedeno and Moustakos allegedly burglarized a bodega in South Richmond Hill, Queens, and were exposed by investigators. They then led the authorities on a high-speed chase from there, past Kennedy Airport and ended when their Ford van crashed into a barrier in LaGuardia Airport. The four were arrested and charged in connection with that burglary. The indictment supersedes both the November 1st and January 18th charges and adds numerous other crimes pertaining to most of the defendants.
A total of 11 incidents charged in the indictment took place in Brooklyn, seven in Queens and one in the Bronx. The exact stolen amount in most of the incidents is not known. The largest known amounts are over $60,000 stolen from a wireless store and its ATM in Ridgewood, $20,000 stolen from an ATM from a Bushwick deli, and $6,000 stolen from a cash register of a Cypress Hills mini mart.
The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorneys Abigail Rosen and Nicole Lauterbach, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Michael Chachura, of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Gregory Pavlides, Frauds Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and Patricia McNeill, Chief.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.