By Forum Staff
Three men targeting elderly female homeowners plead guilty to burglary charges and have received sentences ranging between 3 ½ to 6 years in prison. In carrying out their scheme, the men posed as “Water Department” employees in order to gain access to the homes.
Once inside, they distracted the victims and searched for valuables. The defendants were identified as Michael Stacker, 55, of Staten Island, Michael Miller, 51, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Robert Migule, 70, of Cliffside Park, New Jersey. The 3 men each plead guilty last month to second-degree burglary before Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas. Justice Zayas sentenced Stacker to 6 years, Miller to 5 years and Migule to 3 1/2 years in prison.
After serving their time behind bars, Stacker and Miller will be on 5 years’ post-release supervision and Migule on 2 ½ years’ post-release supervision. Charges detail that Miller approached the Long Island City home of an 84-year-old woman as she was looking out of the window. Miller told the homeowner that he had been working next-door and needed to check her home’s water pressure. Once inside, Miller distracted the woman by telling her to keep an eye on the water flow from her kitchen sink while he checked the rest of the house. As the woman waited in the kitchen, she heard noises coming from other parts of the house and asked Miller what was going on. He reassured her that everything was okay and told her to continue to watch the running water. Five minutes later, Miller returned to the kitchen, told her everything appeared fine, and left. Suspicious, the woman checked her home – including her bedroom – and noticed that two locked safety deposit boxes had been pried open and rummaged through. She, however, did not find any valuables missing. On February 23, 2018, Stacker and Migule appeared at a 79-year-old woman’s College Point home and announced that they were from the “Water Department.” Stacker told the woman that the main waterline had been contaminated and that the water inside her house possibly could be poisoned.
The only way to know for certain, Stacker told her, was to check the water from inside the home. Once given access to the home, Stacker had the victim turn the water on in the kitchen and to watch if the water changed colors. Soon after, Stacker left the kitchen, according to the charges, at which point the homeowner began hearing noises coming from the direction of her living room. She started to investigate when Migule entered the kitchen, identified himself as Stacker’s supervisor and instructed her to move the faucet lever around, insisting that there was contaminated water in the area.
At this point, the homeowner asked to see Migule’s identification and he showed her a card with the name “Jeff Lopez” on it but no company name. The woman was told to keep the water running and they would let her know when everything was all right. After several minutes and the two men not returning, she went to check what was going on. She noticed that the men were not around and that a door to a room that had been previously closed was opened. Suspecting she had been scammed, she checked to see if cash she had hidden was still in its place. She discovered that approximately $300 that was in the pocket of her coat – that had been hanging in the living room – was missing.
Police, who were in the area at the time, observed Stacker exit the victim’s property followed by Migule. The police also noticed that Migule was concealing something inside his jacket and that a large screwdriver was sticking out of his back pants’ pocket.
“I urge everyone, especially senior citizens, to always be diligent when someone comes knocking. The defendants saw these elderly ladies as easy marks – residents they could con into gaining them access to their homes so they could steal cash and valuables,” Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan said. “Always check credentials and call utilities if you are the least bit suspicious. Remember, you can always say ‘no’ to someone seeking entry to your home. If anyone believes they have been victimized, please call our Elder Fraud Unit at (718) 286-6578.”