A city man who was accused of climbing through unlocked windows at two city residences last year and masturbating in the presence of children pleaded guilty to related charges Thursday, the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office said.
In exchange for his plea, he will be sentenced to 15 years in state prison in October.
Prosecutors also released new information in the case, saying that surveillance footage, along with good police work, helped lead them to the perpetrator.
Luis Vargas Jr., 23, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of second-degree burglary as a sexually motivated felony, as well as first-degree attempted sexual abuse, a felony.
The 15-year sentence represents the maximum under the burglary conviction. He will have to register as a sex offender.
Vargas was arrested in May for allegedly breaking into two residences within blocks of his own Division Street home.
In the first incident, he was accused of sliding through an open window the morning of June 17, 2014, and masturbating next to an 11-year-old victim. Vargas was also accused of attempting to subject the child to sexual contact. Other small children were sleeping nearby, authorities said.
Then, early on July 11, 2014, Vargas was accused of breaking into another home in the neighborhood and masturbating in the presence of a 9-year-old victim.
He admitted to both in court Thursday.
Prosecutors credited street surveillance cameras with providing police the first lead in the case. The cameras caught a man wearing a unique hat near both homes around the time of the crimes.
City police Detective Ed Ritz then set out to find that hat and found Vargas wearing one that looked like it. Vargas was soon questioned by city police Sgt. Tom Harrigan and agreed to provide a DNA sample. The sample matched evidence collected at both scenes, prosecutors said.
Harrigan, along with detectives Matt Kiser and Ryan Maloney, then questioned Vargas again, and he made admissions that corroborated evidence already gathered.
“Science and technology coupled with old-fashioned police intuition and initiative,” Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said in a statement, “are the reasons my prosecutors were able to remove a predator from our community before he could cause more or greater harm.”
Taking Thursday’s plea was Judge James A. Murphy III. Prosecuting was Christina Tremante-Pelham. Vargas was represented by Schenectady County Public Defender Stephen Signore.
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