Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. Credit: Tom Lambui

Two men allegedly set fires at three PSEG Long Island substations because they hoped power outages would distract law enforcement while they burglarized Suffolk County businesses, District Attorney Ray Tierney said Tuesday in a news release.

Frank Costa, 54, of Port Jefferson Station, and Jon Pucci, 29, of Middle Island, were charged with weapons offenses, burglary, arson and other crimes in an indictment, prosecutors said.

The defendants were arrested by Suffolk County police detectives on Feb. 10 at a PSEG LI easement in Centereach, according to Tierney’s office, where police officers found an ATM at that location that was allegedly stolen from a Shell gas station in Ridge the day before. Money from the ATM was found in the defendants’ pockets after their arrest.

Costa and Pucci were each charged with first-degree criminal possession of a weapon, nine counts of third-degree burglary, three counts of fifth-degree arson, and other charges, prosecutors said. Pucci pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Monday, according to his attorney, Pierre Bazile, and is expected to return to court on March 12. Bail was set at $100,000 cash, $400,000 bond and $1 million partially secured bond. Bazile declined to comment further.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Richard Horowitz ordered Costa held in lieu of $150,000 bail, $500,000 bond or $1 million partially secured bond during an arraignment Tuesday. Costa’s attorney, Roger Rothman, did not return a request for comment. Costa is scheduled to return to court on March 19.

An investigation revealed that Costa and Pucci burglarized nine central Suffolk County businesses, mostly gas stations, between Aug. 20 and Feb. 9. The defendants also set fires to PSEG substations in Setauket, Centereach and Medford, Tierney said in his statement.

“These alleged criminal acts have not only caused extensive damage, but have also put the lives of Suffolk County residents and first responders at risk,” Tierney said.

Costa and Pucci are also accused of burglarizing a Middle Island gas station twice in December. Other targets included a Coram laundromat and a Yaphank deli, both in January.

LIPA in a statement said the suspects were unsuccessful in their attempts to cause outages at its properties and that the utility has bolstered security measures as a result.

Latest videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months