Two Brooklyn men were arraigned on burglary charges in Queens last week for allegedly turning Christmas Eve into a holiday horror for a Whitestone family, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The DA said Constantino Christo, 43, and Nicholas Papaleo, 33, both of Brooklyn are accused of dressing up like police officers and tying up a Whitestone couple in the early morning hours of Dec. 24 before fleeing the scene with more than $4,000 in cash, Christmas presents and jewelry while their four children slept upstairs.
Though the incident was a less than ideal way to begin Christmas, Brown said the story had a happy ending because police from the 109th Precinct intercepted the would-be robbers and returned all the stolen goods in time for the holiday.
“The defendants are alleged to have pretended to be police officers when, in fact, they acted like the Grinch in the Dr. Seuss classic ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’ Unfortunately for them, their plan was foiled when real police officers stopped them and the victims’ belongings were returned in time for the holiday,” Brown said.
Papaleo and Christo were arraigned on burglary, robbery, assault and criminal impersonation charges in Queens Criminal Court Christmas Eve. If convicted, they could spend up to 25 years in prison. Queens Criminal Court Justice Pauline Mullings ordered Papaleo held without bail and set bail for Christo at $1 million.
Brown said that shortly before 10:20 p.m. Christmas Eve, Papaleo and Christo, clad in police uniforms, approached Robert Kapovic as he went to check on a second property his family owned on 169th Street.
The duo allegedly told Kapovic that they had a warrant for his arrest and took him to his primary residence where they forced their way into his home on 20th Road, when his wife, Deirdre Capone, answered the door.
The DA said the men allegedly tied Kapovic and Capone up with zip-ties for more than three hours while they ransacked the home, including the room where their four children — all under 7 years old — slept.
Authorities said Capone was able to free herself and Kapovic and then call police while her husband jumped in his car and followed a car driven by Christo and Papaleo.
Using the OnStar system in Kapovic’s car, Brown said officers from the 109th Precinct were able to find and apprehend Christo and Papaleo a short time later and the stolen items were returned.
The two men were ordered to return to court Jan. 7.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2009 Community News Group
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