Man and former wife charged with hate crimes after targeting homes of senior citizens for burglaries


The three suspects 
By: Chan Yuan

A man and his former wife have been arrested on a charge of burglary after allegedly targeting the homes of senior citizens for burglaries, according to police in New York.

The New York Police Department said that they have arrested Tony Cristo, 35, and his ex-wife, Teresa Howard, 36, both of 52-34 69 Street in Maspeth, and his sister, Rosie Cristo, 42, of 54-55 69 Lane, also in Maspeth.

The three defendants were charged with second-degree burglary as a hate crime, second-degree burglary, third-degree grand larceny as a hate crime, third and fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, first and second-degree scheme to defraud and petit larceny.

They were booked into jail, and bail was set at a total of $135,000 for Tony Cristo, $25,000 for Rosie Cristo and Howard was ordered remanded on two out-of-state warrants.

According to the criminal complaint, a 91-year-old female Flushing homeowner was in her 50 Avenue residence when an unknown woman entered the premises through the unlocked front door and claimed to be the homeowner’s granddaughter.

Minutes later, the homeowner’s daughter allegedly entered the home and confronted the woman, who stated that she was a former neighbor named “Mary Goldstein.”

When the homeowner’s daughter escorted the woman out of the residence, she observed her enter a green Pontiac with Tony Cristo in the driver’s seat.

The homeowner’s daughter allegedly told Cristo and the woman to leave, and that she was calling the police.

In another incident, an 83-year-old Maspeth woman was inside her 56 Drive residence one morning, when her doorbell rang and the homeowner observed Howard and Rosie Cristo, together with a 10-year-old blonde female child.

Howard and Cristo informed the homeowner that they wanted to speak with the upstairs tenant.

When informed that he was unavailable, the two defendants allegedly asked for a pen and paper to leave a note, after which they left the premises with the child.

A few hours later, the homeowner discovered that her purse was missing, which contained $60 in cash, photographs, non-driver’s ID and medical insurance cards.

That same morning, Howard, two others and a nine-year-old blonde girl entered a home on 69 Street in Jackson Heights and asked the homeowners, a 90-year-old man and his 88-year-old wife, if they could look at construction work that was happening in the home.

The female homeowner was in her bed in the bedroom when Howard and a woman entered the room. The two claimed to be former neighbors of the homeowner.

The woman asked about family pictures on the dresser when one of them asked the female homeowner for a tissue.

After Howard and the other individuals left, the female homeowner discovered that $6,400 in cash was missing from the top drawer of her dresser.

Ten days later, an 86-year-old Flushing man was in his Benham Street residence when there was a knock on his door and allowed Howard to come inside, believing her to be a woman known to him as “Maria,” but he later realized that she was not Maria.

The homeowner offered Howard cookies and coffee, and Howard asked to use the bathroom on at least ten occasions, during which time the homeowner could hear her using the telephone in the bathroom.

It is unknown if any money or valuables were taken from the home.

In another incident, a 59-year-old Flushing man was inside his Woodside Avenue residence when two women, one heavy set and the other slim, entered his home.

It is alleged that the slim woman asked to use the homeowner’s bathroom and proceeded to do so while the heavy set woman sat in the kitchen eating cake.

After a few minutes, both women left the premises, at which time the homeowner realized that approximately $200 in cash, which was rolled up with a rubber band, was missing from his top dresser drawer, as well as a Chase credit card, which had been in his wallet and in the dresser drawer.

Police then stopped the suspects’ car. After stopping the vehicle, police recovered cake and a sum of cash rolled up and held by a rubber band.

The Chase credit card belonging to the homeowner was recovered in the police vehicle that transported the three defendants to the station.