Three Brooklyn Men Charged in Manhattan Federal Court for Two Bank Burglaries

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(clears throat) Good afternoon. My name is Preet Bharara, and I’m the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. On the evening of April 8th, 2016, a Friday, a crew of men climbed onto the roof of an HSBC Bank branch on 13th Avenue in Brooklyn in Borough Park. They secretly cut out the wires to the security alarms and the telephone lines leading into the bank. Over the next 2 nights while the bank remained closed for the weekend, they used acetylene blow torches to tunnel through the roof of the bank and make their way into the bank’s vault. Inside the vault, they found exactly what they were looking for: literally bundles of cash over $330,000 dollars, as well as valuables that customers kept safe in safe deposit boxes in that vault. By the time the bank reopened on Monday, the men were long gone, leaving a jagged hole in the bank’s roof and many victims in their wake. Just over a month later, the crew struck again. Over the weekend of May 20th, they climbed onto the roof of another bank. This time, the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank – a small community bank on Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens. This time, they built a plywood structure painted black to hide themselves while they worked. They again used acetylene blow torches to cut their way through the roof and into the bank’s vault. Inside the vault, the crew found an even bigger treasure than before: $300,000 dollars in cash, and over 4.3 million dollars in valuables like jewelry, diamonds, coins, and stocks certificates the customers have kept in safety deposit boxes. All of it gone. By the time the bank reopened Monday morning with just the gaping hole surrounded by plywood structures and empty safe deposit boxes strewn across the roof, the thieves stole not just people’s money, but their memories too. What was left at the banks and on the roofs of the banks looks like out of a scene of a movie. (clears throat) If you see the charts to my right, this is what the scene on Monday morning looked like at the Maspeth Bank. You’ll see the hole that was cut through the roof of the bank with the acetylene torches. That structure is for the makeshift plywood shed that was used to hide their activity while they were doing the drilling. And you’ll see a whole host of safety deposit boxes that had been looted of their contents, left behind in the wake of the crime. This is a scene, uh, on the weekend after the burglary at the HSBC Bank, as I mentioned in April 2016. You see that’s a neat hole cut out of the roof, and a ladder left behind by, uh, the burglars, leading right into the room where the safety deposit boxes were being kept. Uh, so, those were the bank heists as I described, but happily, this story does not end there with these crime scene photos. It was followed by really incredible police work by the FB – the FBI, and the NYPD, namely the FBI NYPD Joint & Violent Crimes Task Force agents and officers with that task force, working with prosecutors from my Office, poured through countless hours of surveillance videos, and studied mountains of paper, including telephone records, cell site information, financial records, and credit card receipts. They analyzed surveillance videos from around HSBC Bank, and were able to identify the cars used by the crew. We obtained cell tower information from mobile phones used around the time of the bank heists. they obtained credit card receipts and surveillance videos from the Home Depot in Brooklyn where the crew brought – bought the plywood, and paint used to build the shed that I described. They also scoured through surveillance videos from a group of row houses in Brooklyn that appeared to show the crew returning from the bank heists and preparing their tools. This is the type of good, old fashioned detective work that led to the arrests and charges we announce today. We have charged in a complaint and arrested this morning 3 men – Michael Mazzara, Charles Kerrigan, and Anthony Mascuzzio – for being part of the crew allegedly behind these 2 brazen bank heists. These, by the way – uh, these arrests that we announce today are just the latest in a series of successful collaborations we have had with the FBI NYPD Joint & Violent Crimes Task Force earlier this year. Working in (stutters) conjunction with that Task Force, we charge 5 men, including a New York state corrections officer in a series of gunpoint robberies of armored car operators in the Bronx, uh, people who were stealing thousands of dollars in cash. Last fall, again, working with that same Task force, we charged 3 individuals with participating in burglaries of banks in Manhattan and in Hoboken. Each of these cases has been the result of our great partnership with the FBI and the NYPD. Our relationship with these 2 law enforcement organizations in all areas has never been stronger. So first, I want to thank the FBI, represented here today by Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office. Specifically, I want to thank him and his team, uh, and more particularly, uh, Supervisory Special Agent Barbara Daley, and Special Agent Brad Price. I also want to thank the NYPD of course, represented here today by Commissioner, uh, Bill Bratton, for their work on the case and their commitment to the work of the Joint & Violent Crimes Task Force. I specifically want to acknowledge and commend Detective Paul Courtney, and Lieutenant David Glassberg. Finally, I want to thank the career prosecutors in my own Office who have worked, uh, tirelessly on this case for a long time. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benet Kearney, and David Denton, supervised by Ilan Graff, and Amy Lester, the Co-Chiefs of the General Crimes Unit. Um, I want to bring to the podium (clears throat) first, um, my friend and partner Diego Rodriguez, but, but before I do that, um, I know it’s been, um, reported in the press – and I want to indulge for a moment – uh, I don’t know how many more times (if any at all) I’m gonna be standing up here with Diego, uh, who has been a fine leader of the FBI here in New York, and has announced, uh, his move into private – into the private sector sometime ( I think ) at the end of August. And so while I have you, uh, as a captive audience, I want to just express not only in connection with this case, but every case we have done over the years – not only while Diego has been the head of the FBI here, but also when he was the Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division at the FBI – um, there is no better friend, no better partner, no one more dedicated to keeping New Yorkers safe, and to keeping the markets fair, and to keeping government officials honest, than our law enforcement, uh, partner Diego. And so I’ll have a lot more to say about that when he has his retirement party, which will be off the record, (chuckling) but, but I did wanna acknowledge and thank all the great hard work that Diego has done, not just since we have been partnering together over the last few years, but during his entire decades long career in, in public service. And the people of New York should be happy and, and proud, and grateful that we had someone like that working on their behalf. Thank you so much. (Diego) Thank you so much. Wow, that was a tremendous honor. I wasn’t expecting that. Thank you so much Preet. It is wonderful, and I’m gonna miss everybody; trust me. So, good afternoon folks. Uh, these sophisticated bank burglaries had the makings of a movie plot. Masked men wore gloves and hoodies, and slinked along bank rooftops in the dead of night. They dropped down from ceilings, and used blowtorches to breathe – uh, to breech bank vaults. They stole cash and valuables, and sped off in getaway cars. These guys hit banks in their own neighborhood at – of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, the same banks their friends, their neighbors, and their families likely used. And not only did these banks suffer millions of dollars in losses, but these guys stole the contents of hundreds of safety deposit boxes as well. People depended on these safety deposit boxes to protect valuables deemed too precious and documents deemed too important to keep in their own – very own homes. The Mazzara crew took family heirlooms, jewelry, gold coins, and other valuables, and likely tossed aside many victim’s irreplaceable momentos, documents, and family photos, because what held immense sentimental value to their victims, was of little value to the Mazzara crew. These guys then used the money and valuables to finance their lavish lifestyles. They bought new cars and motorcycles, jet skies, and boats. They partied in Las Vegas and took trips to Miami, while the residents of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and Regal Park got taken to the cleaners. As always folks, I will miss this, and I wanna thank U.S. Attorney, uh, Preet Bharara and his Office. I also want to thank the FBI NYPD Violent Crime Task Force, as well as Commissioner Bratton, and the NYPD, as well as the U.S. Probation, and the New York National Guard, and the DEA for dowdily pursuing this investigation. We very much value and appreciate all of your partnerships. Thank you very much. (Preet) (clears throat) And now I’m gonna call to the podium, uh, Commissioner Bratton, to whom I do not need to say goodbye just yet, (laughing) I bring Commissioner Bratton. (Bill) Thank you Preet. I’ll echo the, uh, U.S. Attorney’s comments about Diego. I’ve had the very good fortune – going back to 1990 when I first came here and worked with the, uh, Agent in Charge, um, Jim Fox – uh, a succession of great leaders in the bureau, and certainly U.S. Attorneys also. Uh, echoing, uh, also the, uh, uh, anecdote about comparison to movies, uh, these heists reminded me of one of my favorite movies Heat, with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino: the work of a crew that was well organized, meticulous, and elusive to law enforcement. But they weren’t meticulous enough, and quite obviously, not elusive enough. This investigation was conducted with painstaking persistence. I was briefed on these cases uh, continually. They left few clues – they left very few clues after the heist. Our crime scene teams hunted for every shred of evidence. On the physical surveillance, the license plate reader alerts, to the poll camera analysis, and old school detective work, this is some of the best investigative work I’ve seen. This crew was nearly perfect, but they laid – left behind small pieces of evidence that we complied. From the plywood purchase at a nearby Home Depot, to the torches from a Brooklyn welder used to muscle into the vault, the picture slowly came into focus. Defendant Michael Mazzara might have been the closest thing to Bob DeNiro’s character Neil McCauley in Heat, but we’re not without our own version of Pacino’s Lieutenant, Vincent Hanna. The Joint & Violence Task Force, better known as the Joint Robbery – Bank Robbery Task Force, was first establish in 1979 by my predecessor Bob McGuire, to combat more than 800 bank robberies – actual robberies with guns back in those days. We now have a more common problem with notes. Castaways outdated the first ever Task Force in the history of law enforcement, and this city was abandoned. My return as Police Commissioner while, uh, Boyce, my Chief of Detectives, and I made its reformation, the Task Force marvel that created the JTTF: one of our first orders of business working in our enhanced collaboration with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We cannot do this work alone. We must do it together. And this is an example, a superb example of the extraordinary collaboration that these Task Forces bring about. Echoing also once again, uh, Preet’s comments, I’d like to thank NYPD Detective Paul Courtney, and FBI Agent Brad Price, for their relentless work in this case, their supervisors, which are David Glassberg, and Supervisory Special Agent Barbara Daley’s work was, uh, without doubt, exceptional. My own Chief of Detectives, Bob Boyce, FBI Director – Assistant Director Diego Rodriguez, who we will really miss, and Special Agent in Charge Mitchell Hapsta from – Hopsta from the FBI. We work so many of these cases together, and as always, if it wasn’t for the close cooperation between our respective agencies, today’s conference, today’s arrests, today’s clearances would not have been possible. And finally, I’d like to thank Assistant United States Attorneys Bernard Kearney, David Danton, Ilan Graff, and Amy Lester, and certainly, our U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara, who continues to be an invaluable part among this case, and as he referenced, so many other cases. A great collaboration that benefits the citizens of New York and benefits this department – the NYPD. And so I thank them for the opportunity, once again, to work on a case that was so satisfactory to bring to such a successful conclusion. (Preet) (clears throat) Thanks Commissioner. Happy to take your questions. (Aside) Can you tell us, uh, 2 things. One thing that we learned, um, in terms of the customers who had their belongings taken from the safety deposit boxes: do they want to recover any of those items? And secondly, I know that this was still considered to be part of a larger pattern of about 10. Will you, or are you expecting other charges, and are bringing them together? (Preet) Yeah. So with respect to the first (clears throat), I think – uh, search warrants were executed at 7, 7 locations, and are still in the process of being, um, finished, and I think the preliminary report is, uh, large amounts of cash have been found, and some other items. We’re just – it’s just too early to say whether or not they can be connected back to the burglaries, but we should have that information in a relatively short period of time. And hopefully – as appropriate – uh, people’s belongings that were stolen, if they can be matched back to the, to the customer of the particular bank, can be returned to them, eventually. Respect to the 2nd – I’m answering the 2nd part of her question – uh, with respect to the 2nd, um, you know, part of what the Task Force does is take a look at and try to hold accountable, uh, and recover money from any and all robberies or burglaries that have occured in Brooklyn, Queens, or anywhere else. So there are a number of others who are in the process of continuing that investigation. And, and I can’t predict necessarily that there will be more arrests, but these investigations remain very much open. Yeah. (Aside) But it might be tied to the pattern of Tim, and I know who – (Preet) I don’t, I don’t want speculate on that now. All I, all I can tell you is we have arrested a number of people that we allege in the complaint, are responsible for both of these, uh, burglaries, and there are others that are still open. And we hope be able to prove people responsible for those also. (Aside) Thank you. (Preet) Yeah. (Aside) (unintelligible) bring these together collectively, what other common elements and needs, and so forth, that lead you to say this is like something from a movie? (Preet)……..That’s, that’s an unusual question. Um, I think the Police Commissioner did a, did a great job of aligning some of the things that happened here connecting them to a movie. I think anytime you have any kind of bank heist that’s as brazen as this – not as a, um, an expert on cinema, although I do go to the movies – I think using acetylene blow torches, having, um, you know, a network of cars that you’re using in connection with going to the site, casing out the site, as we described in the complaint, um, there was an abandoned store front next to one of the banks, and people used that location to essentially drill in through torches through the roof, um, and take stuff out. You know, maybe, maybe it’s, it’s not as exciting a movie as you go to, but it seems movie-like to us. Yeah. (Aside) Can you say how, how these guys know each other, and whether or not any of them have criminal records? (Preet) I’m not gonna comment on whether or not they have a criminal record, but obviously, um, I don’t think we allege what their relationship is separate and apart from their membership in this crew that was engaging in these, uh, in these bank burglaries, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna leave that alone. (Aside) Let me just follow up on that answer. (Preet) Yeah. (Aside) Uh, Mr. Mascuzzio – is he the son of, of, (unintelligible) Mascuzzio (inaudible)? (Aside 2) (unintelligible) Mascuzzio mentioned (inaudible). Is that the same one? (Preet) Yes. He’ll confirm it. Yes. (Aside) And he’s the son? (Aside) He is the son. (Aside) Mr. Mazzara – uh, was he the one who was also, uh, shot at when jet skiing (unintelligible)? Sometime in 2009 off of, uh, Sheepshead Bay? (Preet) Yeah, I don’t know the answer to that question. (Aside) That’s the same person: Anthony. He was shot in the face that month. (Aside) Have you talked – (Aside) (unintelligible)? (Preet) I’m sorry? (Aside) How many victims, or how many (unintelligible)? (Preet) I don’t know many victims, um, but I think there are dozens are boxes. I don’t think we specify an exact number in the complaint, but, but many. I mean obviously with respect to one of the banks, we allege that it’s about 4.3 million dollars in, in belongings of people. That’s clearly over the course of many, many safety deposit boxes. i don’t think we specified a particular number. (Aside) (unintelligible) – (Aside 2) No, go ahead. (Aside) Are there – are very specific items which are particularly unavailable? For example, you know, stamps that are particularly rare? Or there (unintelligible) charges of (Preet aside whispers) I think I mentioned 2 baseball cards. (Preet) Yeah. Again, I’m not go beyond what’s in the complaint, but we mentioned jewelry, we mentioned, um, trading cards; things of that nature. Yeah. (Aside) You talk about surveillance in the complaints. It appears as if the suspects that – were on surveillance in April prior to the main incident. Would there have been any opportunity to make an arrest before the main incident? If you can speak to that? (Preet) Yeah. Look, these folks have been doing a great job, uh, trying to see if, uh, you know, if surveillance would, would lead us to a point where we could arrest people. Um, it took a lot of connecting of a lot of dots, including going through – that’s why I spent some time going through all of the things that had to be done so, uh, the trail could be followed. We arrested people as soon as we could, you know, make the positive identifications, and as soon as we could connect people to these bank burglaries. So, you know, the fact that people were under surveillance for a period of time I think lent credence to the idea that these folks are really hard working and trying to make sure that we have proper IDs of the people who are responsible. (Aside) (unintelligible) talked about the proceeds have been used to buy cars and motorcycles, and clothes, and take vacations. This all happened since April or May? All those things: the vacations, the boats, the motorcycles? (Preet) Yeah. I mean, whatever – I’m gonna not say anything beyond what’s in the complaint. (Aside) Did (unintelligible) lost 5 million (unintelligible). In the scheme of the recent history of bank (unintelligible) (unintelligible) a substantial part? (Preet) I mean, based on the ones that we have charged – and there are other, there are other prosecutor’s offices – I’m – (Aside) (unintelligible). (Preet) Yeah. There are other prosecutor’s offices, I’m told. Um, based on ones that we have done, this ranks very highly, I think, in the last few years. (Aside) For our viewers who may not be so well versed in bank robbers, can you explain a little bit in greater detail – (Preet) They should watch more movies. (laughing) (Aside) Uh, assuming tanks (unintelligible) oxygen tanks, and the fire extinguisher, and the shot back: those were also mentioned in the criminal complaint. Can you explain how those elements were used in these incidents please? (Preet) I’m not an expert either, and I can just repeat what you can read for yourself in the complaint. There’s a certain – (Aside) I have a question. (Preet) There’s a certain, there’s a certain kind of blowtorch that, that, that can cut through ceilings, and cut through roofs that use a combination of, of oxygen and other materials. You can see that I’m not doing a great job of answering your question. Um, I’m sure there are better sources of information on how particular blowtorches are used. That’s the best I can do for you. (Aside) Um, for the Police Commissioner, or hoping, Detective Boyce. You guys have spoken a lot about financial crimes. This seems to be a very brick and mortar (unintelligible). Have you guys spoken to banks about upgrading their infrastructure so people can’t do this kind of activity? (Bob) The answer is yes. We meet often, and we, uh, actually addressed the, uh, the – that group. Uh, I just can’t remember the name (unintelligible). Uh, last, last year, Stanton gave (unintelligible) presentation. They’re in constant constant contact with the Major Case Unit, as well as the Joint Bank Robbery Task Force. And so, the answer is yes. I personally have, and so have my, uh, my detectives. (Preet) Thanks everybody. (Aside) Thank you.

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