Former NYC detective pleads guilty to belonging to multimillion-dollar burglary ring

Former NYPD police officer Rafael Astacio, of Copiague,

Former NYPD police officer Rafael Astacio, of Copiague, runs out of federal court in Central Islip on Thursday, June 26, 2014. Astacio pled guilty Thursday in federal court in Central Islip to being a member of a sophisticated burglary ring that did $10 million worth of jobs. (Credit: James Carbone)

A former NYPD detective who lives in Copiague admitted Thursday to belonging to a burglary ring that stole about $10 million worth of goods and cash, officials said.

Rafael Astacio, 42, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transmit stolen property in interstate commerce in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

As part of a plea agreement, Astacio admitted to taking part in 10 burglaries, serving mostly as a lookout. The burglaries were committed between 2009 and 2010, and occurred mainly on Long Island, authorities said.


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"Astacio and his band of thieves invaded people's homes and businesses, and stole millions of dollars," Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "What makes Astacio's crimes even more disgraceful is that he committed them while he was an NYPD detective who took an oath to protect and serve our community."

The crimes include the theft of $3 million worth of sunglasses from Eyeking Wholesale Sunglasses in Plainview and $2 million in cash from the office of a Woodbury plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Greenberg.

Astacio admitted to helping to transport many of the 45,000 pairs of stolen sunglasses to Florida, where they were sold, officials said.

Eyeking representatives could not be reached Thursday. A woman who answered the phone at Greenberg's office declined to comment.

Other burglaries Astacio admitted to being involved with include a dairy in Farmingdale, a fruit store in Copiague, a candy store in Freeport and the Coach store in Woodbury, officials said. The amount of goods and cash stolen in those burglaries was not disclosed.

Astacio also admitted to participating in four home burglaries -- in Baldwin, Howard Beach in Queens, West Islip and at Greenberg's home, for which a location was not given.

In addition, Astacio pleaded guilty to filing a fraudulent 2010 federal income tax return for failing to report more than $100,000 in burglary proceeds, officials said.Afterward, Manhattan defense attorney Peter Brill said Astacio, a 20-year NYPD veteran, "accepts responsibility and acknowledges that there was a shameful part of his life. But he remains proud of the work he did as a police officer for the people of New York."

The prosecutor on the case, Christopher Caffarone, declined to comment.

Astacio faces up to 8 years in prison, forfeiture of $200,000, a fine of up to $500,000 and restitution to be determined later.

Officials said Astacio was part of a crew that committed three dozen commercial and 10 residential burglaries.

Four other ring members have been arrested. Two have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing; proceedings are continuing against the other two, authorities said.

In another case, Astacio pleaded guilty Thursday in state court in Riverhead to taking part in the 2012 burglary of a home in Lindenhurst, Brill said. Astacio faces up to 5 years in prison.

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