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Post date: May 7 2002

Leader Of Upstate Burglary Ring Indicted On 17 Counts

Attorney General Spitzer today announced the indictment of the leader of a serial burglary ring that targeted elderly victims in Central New York and the Capital District.

A 17-count indictment was unsealed in Madison County Court before Judge Biagio J. DiStefano, charging Maria Kwiek, 24, a.k.a. Maria Lakatosz, of Brooklyn, with nine counts of Burglary, one count of Attempted Burglary, four counts of Grand Larceny, one count of Assault, one count of Conspiracy, and one count of Petit Larceny. The most serious charge in the indictment is Burglary in the First Degree a Class "B" felony.

The indictment alleges that over a period of 18 months beginning in September of 2000, Kwiek, working with a number of accomplices, targeted elderly victims by following them from places such as the parking lot of local shopping centers to their homes and learning their day-to-day routines. Kwiek would then approach the victims and offer a fabricated tale to gain access to their homes. Upon gaining entry, she would distract her victim while her accomplices rifled through personal belongings, stealing cash, jewelry, and other valuables.

Kwiek was arraigned on Thursday, May 2, and entered a plea of not guilty. Judge DiStefano set bail at $100,000, and remanded Kwiek to Madison County Jail.

The theft of more than $60,000 worth of property is alleged in the series of crimes committed in Albany, Auburn, Canastota, Manlius, Morrisville, Rensselaer, Syracuse, and Waterford.

The investigation was initiated by the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office which sought assistance of Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) as a result of the broad geographic range of the alleged incidents. Also assisting in the investigation were the New York State Police, and the Albany, Manlius, and Waterford police departments.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General James Mindell of the OCTF in Syracuse.