An 18-year-old Brentwood, LI teenager pleaded guilty last Thursday to burglary as a hate crime for committing three separate thefts in Queens in one day, duping three elderly men into allowing the defendant and his cohorts into their homes so they could steal cash and valuables.
“The defendant in this case shamefully targeted his victims because their advanced age and frailties made them easy targets,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.
Under the provisions of the state’s Hate Crimes Act of 2000, enhanced charges can be filed when a defendant allegedly selects his or her victim because of a disability or age, if the victim is 60 or older.
The defendant, Justin Frank, has been held in jail in lieu of bail since his arrest in October 2012.
Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron indicated that he would sentence Frank to a determinate term of six years in prison and five years’ supervision at his sentencing on June 7.
According to the charges, a 91-year-old Flushing man was standing in his driveway on Aug. 28, 2012, when he was approached by Frank and several other individuals who have not been apprehended.
One of the individuals claimed to have been a former neighbor of the victim and asked to be allowed into his house to write down his new address so the victim could visit. The men pushed and slapped the victim and threatened to kill him, then took his cell phone, and cash from his pocket and his eyeglasses. They also forced him into the basement, threatening to kill him, and took additional cash.
Two hours later, a 92-year-old Woodside man was taking out the garbage when he was approached by some men who stated they were from the water company and needed to check a broken pipe. They pushed their way into the living room, took money from the victim’s living room, pushed him to the floor and fled the house.
A few blocks away, a 77-year-old man was home with his wife when some men knocked on his door and claimed to have done work for him years earlier. Frank asked for a glass of water and blocked the victim at his refrigerator while the other men wandered around the house. Afterward, the victim checked his wallet and noticed that it had been moved and that money was missing from it.
Frank’s fingerprints were matched to the fingerprint left on an envelope in the first incident and the fingerprint left on the water glass in the third incident.