Saratoga County

Gang member admits to Rex store burglary

A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a burglary committed five years ago in which $48,000 w

A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a burglary committed five years ago in which $48,000 worth of electronics was stolen from the Rex Electronics store in Wilton.

Michael Vasquez, 30, of Lawrence, Mass., described as a member of a Lawrence gang, was extradited from the Bay State and arraigned Monday in Wilton Town Court on charges of second- and third-degree burglary.

He pleaded guilty to the third-degree burglary charge Tuesday in Saratoga County Court in connection with the March 3, 2007 theft.

The guilty plea comes after more than two years of investigation by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office and the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office.

Three other gang members also allegedly participated in the heist, which included the theft of two vans owned by the Benson’s pet store located next to the former Rex Electronics store in a plaza on Route 50.

Vasquez remains in the Saratoga County jail without bail. Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III is asking the court to give Vasquez five years in state prison when he sentenced Aug. 7.

The pet store vans were recovered near Boston days after the 2007 break-in and returned to Benson’s.

Rex Electronics of Dayton, Ohio, has closed all of its retail stores and is in the liquidation phase of bankruptcy. The Wilton store closed in late 2007.

“Sheriff [James] Bowen and I discussed this case and felt that we should proceed, despite the age of the case, because this defendant was a gang member, had stolen a large amount of merchandize, and was part a multistate fraud ring,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the “break” in the case happened when Massachusetts State Police recovered one of the stolen televisions during a search of Vasquez’s apartment.

Sheriff’s office Inv. Rick Capasso corroborated the information via cellphone records used the day of the burglary, and Vasquez ultimately admitted his involvement when faced with the mounting evidence against him by Massachusetts State Police and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, Murphy said in a statement.

Federal authorities were initially interested in the case as part of an investigation into a Northeast gang called the Latin Gangster Disciples, based in Lawrence, but the cases ended up back in the hands of Massachusetts State Police and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office last year for reasons related to an ongoing federal investigation.

Assistant District Attorney Jesse Ashdown worked closely on the case with Capasso over a two-year-period.

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