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Queens man convicted in burglaries of nine Nassau homes

A jury found a Queens man guilty of burglarizing nine homes in Nassau County, prosecutors announced Friday.

Brayan Castano, 33, of Elmhurst was convicted of seven counts of second-degree burglary, second-degree attempted burglary of homes and possession of burglar’s tools during robberies in Old Westbury, Manhasset, Jericho and Woodbury. He was acquitted of second-degree burglary.

"Brayan Castano and his co-defendants invaded the homes of several families and stole their peace of mind and more than $1 million in cash and currency during a five-month burglary spree," acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith said. "More families would have been victimized and the spree would have continued without the expert work of the NCPD, who caught Castano red-handed as he burglarized a home in Jericho and arrested him, and my prosecutors who successfully tried this case."

The trial started on Sept. 20, in front of Judge Helene Gugerty, and is due back for sentencing Jan. 11.

Castano’s co-defendant Oscar Vera, 30, of San Bernardino, California, has pleaded guilty for his role in the pattern burglary ring. Another co-defendant, Andres Zapata, 23, of Corona, Queens, has a pending case.

Prosecutors said Castano and his co-defendants, between May 2018 and September 2018, stole more than $1 million in cash, foreign currency, jewelry and designer handbags. They chose gated communities, as a lookout was stationed at the gate, to let the accomplices know if police were nearby, prosecutors said.

They went into these homes on Friday or Saturday night, prosecutors said. Castano was taken into custody on Sept. 21, 2018, by the Nassau County Police Department.

Castano's attorney argued in January 2020 before a Brooklyn appellate court that under the state's bail reform law that had just gone into effect, which eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes, his client should be freed while awaiting trial. The appellate court ruled against Castano's attorney, siding with Gugerty.

The court decided Gugerty's decision that the same bail for Castano after the new law took effect "did not violate ‘constitutional or statutory standards.’ "

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