Saturday, 01 Oct 2022

Queens man gets 30 years in prison for North Shore burglaries

Queens man gets 30 years in prison for North Shore burglaries

Long Island (Writer)-A Queens man who was part of a burglary ring that stole more than $1 million in cash and property from homes on Nassau's North Shore will spend 30 years behind bars for his role in the 2018 crime spree.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty meted out the sentence Monday to Brayan Castano, telling him he had shown no remorse and she had given his punishment "great consideration."

Castano was among a trio of suspects whom police arrested after a probe into residential burglaries in high-end neighborhoods, according to law enforcement officials.

They said the culprits stole U.S. and foreign currency along with jewelry and designer handbags.

Authorities never recovered the valuables, which also included personal items such as birth certificates and naturalization records, prosecutor Stefanie Palma said at Monday's sentencing.

A jury in October convicted Castano, 33, of seven counts of burglary, along with attempted burglary and possession of burglary tools during a seven-week trial in Nassau County Court.

"I understand the severity of these crimes," he told the judge Monday.

But Castano added that he had children he wanted to come home to and that he wasn't a threat to society.

Castano's attorney, Jeffrey Groder, asked Gugerty to temper justice with mercy while punishing his client, a husband and father with two young sons and a 15-year-old stepdaughter.

The Mineola defense lawyer also said the crimes were committed in a way meant to ensure no one was hurt, with the burglars targeting empty residences.

The homes were in Old Westbury, Manhasset, Jericho and Woodbury, according to prosecutors. They said the burglars preyed inside gated communities with only one way in and out, stationing a lookout at the gate as a way to try to avoid police capture.

All the crimes were on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights, with ring members entering homes by breaking back windows or doors, the Nassau District Attorney's Office also has said.

Court records show Nassau police busted the ring during a break-in at a Jericho home in September 2018. They show the operation included aerial surveillance and separately tracking Castano's BMW from Queens to the area of the crime.

One of Castano's two co-defendants, Oscar Vera, 30, testified against him at trial as a cooperating government witness, according to Groder.

The case against Castano previously made headlines in early 2020 after changes to the state's bail law. Groder had argued in a Brooklyn appellate court that the law at that time entitled his client to release from jail on his own recognizance.

But the higher court sided with Gugerty, who had ruled that Castano should stay jailed in lieu of $2 million bond or $1 million cash bail.

This April, a separate Nassau County Court jury convicted another ring co-defendant, Andres Zapata, 24, of Queens, on burglary and other charges. He is awaiting sentencing.

Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in a statement Monday that Castano and his co-defendants "left communities on edge" with their burglary spree, while praising police and prosecutors whose efforts led to a "significant' sentence for Castano.


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