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Wedding gift suspect faces grand larceny charge

Omar Santiago, 18, of Irvington, N.J., is led

Omar Santiago, 18, of Irvington, N.J., is led out of Fifth Precinct in Patchogue for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip. Santiago, who was a guest at a wedding, allegedly attempted to steal wedding gifts the newlywed couple received. (Sept. 3, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

A guest at a West Sayville wedding charged with trying to steal gifts, including cash, intended for the bride and groom, was arraigned Monday on a grand larceny charge.

Omar Santiago, 18, of Irvington, N.J., is accused of attempting to steal wedding cards, checks and more than $1,000 in cash, Suffolk police said.

"I took the cards from the gift box and stuffed them in my pants," Suffolk police said Santiago told them.

Santiago pleaded not guilty to a charge of fourth-degree grand larceny at his arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip. He told Judge Jennifer A. Henry that he lives with his grandmother and that he had no source of income.

An attorney from the Suffolk Legal Aid Society representing Santiago said he has no prior criminal record.

The judge set bail at $5,000 cash or $7,500 bond and ordered Santiago to return to court Wednesday.

Santiago was attending the wedding of Larry and Joanna Williamson of Central Islip at the West Sayville Country Club on Saturday when the venue's maitre d', Ann-Marie Botsch, noticed he was carrying a white box containing gift envelopes intended for the newlyweds, police said.

In an interview, Botsch, who said Santiago was "a guest of a guest" on the groom's side, said she became "suspicious because he was in my coat closet with the box."

Police said Santiago went into the men's room, took the envelopes from the box, hid them in his clothing and ran out of the building.

Botsch, 44, of West Sayville, alerted the bride.

The groom and about five guests pursued Santiago and held him until police arrived, Botsch said.

Police said Santiago suffered head injuries, scratches and bruises, was treated at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and released Sunday to police custody. They would not say how Santiago was hurt.

All the wedding gifts were recovered.

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