A homeless man described by Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota as "a one man crime wave" was charged yesterday with committing 19 robberies and burglaries in Brentwood, Central Islip and Bay Shore in the past five months.
"We got a bad, bad person off the streets," Spota said, crediting two sharp-eyed Suffolk police officers who spotted Ronnie Lacaliano, 29, on the street.
Suffolk police Officers Timothy Drake and Michael Cammarata said they saw Lacaliano while on routine patrol as he walked on Carleton Avenue in Islip on March 25, and recognized him from a surveillance video they had seen two days before when responding to a burglary call.
Spota also credited the new acting police commissioner, Edward Webber, with instituting a new crime-reporting procedure that cuts across precinct borders to a central department where patterns can be detected and relayed to patrol officers.
Although the charges against Lacaliano originated in the Third Precinct, he is also being investigated in connection with crimes in the First and Fourth precincts, Spota said.
At an arraignment before State Supreme Court Justice James F.X. Doyle, assistant Suffolk District Attorney Michelle Chiuchiolo said Lacaliano -- also known as Ronny Laca -- had confessed to each crime in the indictment, telling police what he took in each burglary and how he entered each building. In two of the robberies, children under the age of 12 were present, she said, and in one he showed a silver hand gun that was actually a starter pistol. In one robbery, officials said, he shoved a child off a stool near a cash register.
Lacaliano was indicted by a grand jury on five counts of second-degree robbery and 14 counts of burglary in a crime spree that took place in Central Islip, Brentwood and Bay Shore from Nov. 11 until he was arrested on March 25. He pleaded not guilty and was held on $200,000 cash or $400,000 bond.
Lacaliano blamed his crime spree on his heavy addiction to cocaine, Legal Aid attorney Lani Houston said. The prosecutor's office said it was crack. Houston asked Doyle for a court-ordered mental health evaluation to get "a fuller picture as to what's going on."
Lacaliano could be sentenced to up to 15 years for each robbery and 7 years for each burglary.
The district attorney's office also said that while Lacaliano gave a Bay Shore address he has actually been living in empty stores and moving from place to place. Until four months ago, he had been employed by Central American Freight in Bay Shore for at least a year, Houston said.
Lacaliano has a wife and child in Suffolk County and several children in Honduras. In addition to spending about $13,000 he stole on drugs and alcohol, he was sending money back to Honduras to his other family, said both the prosecutors and defense attorney.
Ronnie Lacaliano was indicted on a charges of committing five robberies and 14 burglaries over five months in Central Islip, stealing more than $13,000 in cash. The indictments include:
ROBBING five individuals between Feb. 28 and March 20.
BURGLARIZING Brentwood Pediatric, 27 Wicks Rd., Brentwood, on or about Dec. 17, 2011.
BURGLARIZING The Real Muffler Shop, 77 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip, on or about March 23.
BURGLARIZING the Aquarius Bar, 31 West Suffolk Ave., Central Islip, on or about March 22.
BURGLARIZING the Pollo Campero Restaurant, 1665 Fifth Ave., Brentwood, on or about Dec. 7, 2011.
BURGLARIZING Brentwood Chiropractic, 162 Second St., Brentwood, on or about March 20.
BURGLARIZING Fifth Avenue Auto, 1691 Fifth Ave., Bay Shore, on or about Dec. 7, 2011.
BURGLARIZING Budget Laundry, 1555 Islip Ave., Central Islip, on or about Dec. 20, 2011.
BURGLARIZING Metro PCS, 1671 Islip Ave., Brentwood, on or about Nov. 25, 2011.
BURGLARIZING Eagle Auto, 116 West Suffolk Ave., Central Islip, on or about Feb 2.
BURGLARIZING Precision Driving School, 1181 Suffolk Ave., Brentwood, on or about Feb. 5.
BURGLARIZING LoMejor De La Naturaliza, 711 Suffolk Ave., Brentwood, on or about Dec. 17, 2011.
BURGLARIZING Brentwood Florist, 572 Suffolk Ave., Brentwood, on or about Nov. 11, 2011.
BURGLARIZING L.I. Comprehensive Care, 1776 Brentwood Rd., Brentwood, between Jan. 7 and Jan. 9.
BURGLARIZING Metro PCS, 1632 Brentwood Rd., Brentwood, between March 24 and March 25.
Source: Suffolk County district attorney's office