An 18-year-old Brentwood teenager has been indicted on charges of burglary and robbery and is being accused of committing hate crimes against three elderly men in one day, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced Monday.
The defendant, Justin Frank, allegedly tricked three elderly Queens men into allowing him and other unapprehended suspects into the victims’ homes to steal cash and other valuables on Aug. 28, 2012.
Frank was arraigned on Monday before Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas on an 18-count indictment charging him with first- and second-degree burglary and robbery, according to a statement released by Brown’s office.
Both charges are being treated as hate crimes since the defendant is alleged to have selected his victims because of their ages.
“It is truly despicable that the defendant would allegedly prey on defenseless men and violate the sanctity of their homes,” Brown said in his statement. “Crimes such as those alleged in this case cannot be tolerated.”
One of the victims, a 91-year-old Flushing man, was pushed, slapped and robbed after letting the suspects, pretending to be former neighbors, into his home.
The two other victims, both from Woodside, were also robbed after the suspects pretended to be contractors and repairmen inspecting both houses. The two victims are ages 92 and 77.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said he is impressed with the way the DA’s office utilized hate crime law in the case.
“Hate crime law should be used if a specific group is being targeted and in this case, the burglar was targeting the elderly.” Vallone said. “This was a very novel use of hate crime law.”
Frank faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted and is being held on $250,000 bail. The defendant will return to court on April 17.