Special prosecutor takes over police gun belt theft
A Lindenhurst man who court documents said helped a Smithtown man steal the police chief's gun belt and ammunition from his vehicle now faces sentencing in June as a special prosecutor takes over the case.
Gabriel Miguelez, 36, was due to be sentenced Wednesday in Riverhead, but the case was moved to June 10.
Miguelez and Christopher Loeb, 26, were indicted Dec. 28 on counts related to breaking into more than a dozen cars in St. James on Dec. 14. Among the 30 counts in the indictment, both were charged with stealing a gun belt and ammunition from Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke's department-issued SUV. They were both charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, fourth- and fifth-degree charges of stolen property.
Court records obtained Wedneday show Miguelez originally pleaded not guilty and was held on $150,000 bond or $40,000 cash. In January, he pleaded guilty. In a letter dated Jan. 15, Assistant District Attorney Spiros Moustakas filed to have Miguelez taken to the Suffolk County district attorney's office to speak with a prosecutor or a member of the police department. He was released from jail two weeks later, on Jan. 30, after posting $10,000 bond. Loeb remains in jail with bail set at $500,000 and is due back in court June 4.
According to the court documents, police said Miguelez told them he met with Loeb about 9 p.m. on Dec. 13.
"Chris was acting a little nervous about one of the cars he broke into," said a handwritten statement from Miguelez. He said he dropped Loeb home and returned the next morning to find "a box of cigars, a gunbelt, a laptop and some other stuff which I knew Chris stole last night. Chris then hid the gunbelt downstairs and a little while later they arrested us."
The Suffolk district attorney's office has requested a special prosecutor for Miguelez and Loeb's case. Queens Assistant District Attorney Peter Crusco, who a court source said lives in Suffolk County, was appointed to take over the case. Crusco did not return calls seeking comment. The Suffolk district attorney's office said in court documents the request was made because prior to becoming chief, Burke was the prosecutor's chief investigator for more than 10 years.