A judge Wednesday set a cash bail of $1 million for a Bay Shore man accused of impersonating a cop in Lindenhurst and luring two teenage girls into an SUV before kidnapping one of the teens, authorities said.
Donald Cristiano Jr., 46, faces felony charges related to the Feb. 3 incident, including kidnapping, sexual abuse, luring a child, criminal impersonation and two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child.
He was indicted Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges before Supreme Court Justice Richard Horowitz in Central Islip, according to the Suffolk County district attorney's office.
Just before 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, the two teens were walking on Herbert Avenue as they headed to the Lindenhurst Public Library, Suffolk police said at the time. Cristiano, driving a white Nissan Xterra SUV, spotted the girls, 14 and 16, identified himself as a police officer and told them he was investigating gang activity in the area, according to police and the district attorney's office He offered to drive the girls to the library and they accepted, authorities said.
According to the district attorney's office, once they arrived at the library, Cristiano asked the older girl to leave the SUV and began questioning the 14-year-old, writing down personal information, including her home address, in a notepad. He then drove her to nearby Fireman's Memorial Park, where he grabbed the girl's "pants and waist" and made "inappropriate" comments, said Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart after his Feb. 4 arrest following a review of library surveillance footage.
The girl fought back, Hart said, grabbing a door handle and kicking it open and escaping. She ran to a house nearby seeking help and a resident called police. The other girl had notified a crossing guard who called 911, authorities said.
"This defendant’s actions were disturbing and depraved," Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a Wednesday news release. "He allegedly lured and captured these girls by pretending to be someone they could trust and would keep them safe, which is the exact opposite of his intentions. However, even when faced with this terrifying ordeal, the victims did the right thing by immediately getting help and calling the police."
Sini commended the girls for their "swift thinking" and Suffolk police for their investigation that led to Cristiano’s arrest.
Horowitz set bail at $1 million cash, $2 million bond or $3 million partially secured bond, and issued orders of protection for the two victims. The top kidnapping charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.
Cristiano is being represented by the Legal Aid Society, according to the district attorney’s office. A call to the Legal Aid Society seeking comment was not immediately returned.
He is due back in court March 9.