Man pleads guilty to burglaries targeting elderly
An 18-year-old Brentwood man is facing six years in prison for hate crimes after being found guilty of burglaries targeting the elderly, Queens prosecutors said Friday.
The three victims -- ages 92, 91 and 77 -- were burglarized separately on the same day in August, according to authorities.
Justin Frank pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary as a hate crime Thursday before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry S. Kron. Sentencing is scheduled for June 7.
Frank has been in jail since his arrest in October. A phone call seeking comment from his attorney was not immediately returned.
The defendant "shamefully targeted his victims because their advanced age and frailties made them easy targets," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.
Under provisions of New York State's Hate Crimes Act of 2000, enhanced charges can be filed when a defendant is alleged to have selected victims because they have a disability or are elderly, defined as 60 or older.
Prosecutors said Frank and "several other unapprehended male individuals" tricked a 91- year-old man in Flushing to gain access to his home on Aug. 28.
One of the individuals told the victim he was a former neighbor and asked to be allowed inside to write down his new address so that the victim could visit, prosecutors said.
The men pushed and slapped the victim and threatened to kill him, and then took his cellphone and cash from his pocket -- even his eyeglasses. They forced him into the basement, placing a pointed stick at his neck and threatened to kill him. They left after taking more cash, according to prosecutors.
About two hours later, a 92-year-old Woodside man was taking out trash when he was approached by some men who stated they were from the water company and needed to check a broken pipe. They pushed their way into the living room, and Frank and the others took money from the victim, pushing him to the floor before fleeing, prosecutors said.
Minutes later, a few blocks away, a 77-year-old man was home with his wife when some men knocked on his door and claimed to have done work for him years earlier. Frank asked for a glass of water and blocked the victim at his refrigerator while the other men roamed the house, prosecutors said.
Later, after the men left, the victim discovered that money was missing from the wallet he'd left on the dining room table, prosecutors said.
None of the victims suffered serious injuries, according to police.