Ulster woman's screams lead officers to burglar, police say

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Lucky timing by an Ulster County village's patrol officers led to the discovery of a screaming woman who claimed she was being held against her will and the recovery of a large amount of stolen property, police said.

An Ellenville police patrol was passing a house at Ann Street about 1 p.m. Nov. 9 when officers heard screams coming from the home, Ellenville police Chief Phil Mattracion said Thursday. The officers determined a domestic dispute was in progress and knocked on the door, which was answered by resident Charles Vega, 53, who had recently completed his parole on a drug possession sentence.

A woman bolted out the door past Vega and ran to an officer, saying she had been held against her will, according to Mattracion.

"She was thanking us, saying she didn't know what he was going to do to her," Mattracion said. "She also said, 'Everything in the house is stolen.'"

The woman had not seen the patrol coming before screaming, Mattracion said, adding the officers were just in the right place at the right time.

As the first officer consoled the woman, another cop looked inside the house and saw a generator that had been reported missing from a village home two days earlier, Mattracion said.

Cops also found a whole slew of items that Mattracion said Vega stole. They included bedding, toys from J.C. Penney, tools, DVDs and lawn ornaments.

"It was like a Walmart in there," Mattracion said.

Vega also had a dolly he illegally took from a local bakery in order to haul the stolen generator to the Ann Street house, the chief said.

After investigating, police charged Vega with third-degree burglary and fourth-degree possession of stolen property, felonies; along with seventh-degree drug possession, second-degree possession of drug paraphernalia, second-degree unlawful imprisonment, and petty larceny, all misdemeanors. Further charges are pending, Mattracion said.

Vega was arraigned before Ellenville Village Justice Matthew Parker and was sent to the Ulster County Jail without bail. His next court date is Dec. 4.

His attorney, Edward Bruno of Pine Bush, said he was looking into whether the entry by the officers into the home was constitutional.

"They did not have a warrant," he said before declining further comment.


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