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'Serial Burglar' Faces Life in Prison for South Fork Burglaries, DA Says

Suffolk County District Attorney's office says Justin Bennett was identified by a homeowner who caught him in his house.

Justin T. Bennett Credit: EHTPD
Justin T. Bennett Credit: EHTPD
Justin T. Bennett, who was arrested last month after an investigation into dozens of burglaries in East Hampton and Southampton towns, could spend life in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Michelle Chiuchiolo, who works in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Major Crimes Bureau, said that Bennett, 35, is looking at 15 years on each of the 25 second-degree burglary charges handed down in the 27-count indictment on Nov. 1.

Arraigned before Judge Richard Ambro in Suffolk County Criminal Court on Thursday, Bennett's bail was increased in light of additional charges since his arrest. He is being held at the Suffolk County jail on $200,000 or $400,000 bond.

Brought in wearing handcuffs, a sweater and slacks, he pleaded not guilty.

Bennett, a Springs resident who grew up in Sag Harbor, has been behind bars since Oct. 24, the day after his 35th birthday. East Hampton Town, Southampton Town and Sag Harbor Village police investigated a series of burglaries that took place over 10 months, ultimately developing Bennett as a suspect.

Bennett gave detectives "elaborate confessions," Chiuchiolo said, adding that police took him to each of the houses he burglarized, and he showed them how he broke in — usually finding an unlocked door or a hide-a-key — and told them what he took.

He reportedly stole more than $126,000 in jewelry, cash and prescription medications between January and October 2013. One of the burglaries was at the home of a breast cancer patient who was raising money for the LI2Day Walk, which helps support breast cancer-related initiatives, like Lucia's Room at Southampton Hospital.

He pawned the jewelry, including family heirlooms and engraved wedding rings, to feed his "severe heroin addiction," the ADA said, adding he displayed his ID when doing so. With the help of New York Police Department detectives, some of the jewelry was recovered, and police are in the process of having victims identify their jewelry.

In a few instances, Bennett got caught by the homeowners. Chiuchiolo said a resident of one of the houses he broke into was able to identify him.

Though Bennett has no prior criminal record, the ADA said he does have an open case pending on a charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance.

He is due back in county court on Dec. 6.
Samuel Robins November 07, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Seems like systematic stupidity... every day drunk drivers serve short sentences for vehicular manslaughter, only to get back in their cars to collect more DWIs and in this case you have a guy who is not trying to hide the truth of his misdeeds, has not taken any life or hurt anyone, who could be rehabilitated, made productive again and could pay back every single victim 100%! But our inept system would prefer to put him behind bars for 375 years (15 years x 25 counts) at taxpayers expense. You people who write and implement these laws need counseling.
b.king12 November 07, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Samuel Robins I totally agree with you, I don't know this person but I also don't judge. This area is in desperate need of rehabilitation services. Heroin use is more common that we want to admit and instead of spending my tax dollars on prison sentences for sick people I would rather it went in to getting them the medical help they need. I don't see a difference between someone who has an addiction and someone who has cancer or any other disease and they should be given the same help and support to make them well again. Here is a fact for those who don't think this effects every one of us. "In 2011, 4.2 million Americans aged 12 or older (or 1.6 percent) had used heroin at least once in their lives. It is estimated that about 23 percent of individuals who use heroin become dependent on it." I think we need to change the way we think about addicts, it could be someone you know and love.
Irene November 07, 2013 at 02:11 PM
People get less time for murder
Kasey Cosgrove November 07, 2013 at 02:34 PM
You got it b.king live. I do know him and once we were all roommates. He needs help.
Kasey Cosgrove November 07, 2013 at 02:34 PM
I mean b.king12..oops
eh November 07, 2013 at 02:46 PM
The Courts usually approve a plea deal for a fraction of the original charges - still, this fellow will end up with more Jail than the 4 time Felony DWI person last year who hospitalized several people. Irene is correct on time issue.
Heather Dunn-Kostura November 07, 2013 at 03:10 PM
The mere suggestion that this guy could spend life in prison is insane. Agree with all above. He needs help. Yesterday the head of the federal prison system testified before congress about the horrendous over crowding. I don't think anybody is listening.
Gail Simons November 07, 2013 at 03:12 PM
People do far less for rape, murder, child abuse... Life for burglary, really?
Mary Grady November 07, 2013 at 04:13 PM
This is a bit extreme don't you think!!!!! He's sick and needs help with his addiction! Drive drunk, kill someone, you get less! Really! Didn't we just vote????!!!
pat November 07, 2013 at 06:01 PM
He should have just sold crappy mortgages and other such interesting instruments in the securities industry and he would have raked in more and gotten away with it. Life in prison seems ridiculous.
Rick Hoyt November 08, 2013 at 08:51 AM
Not surprised,more $$ for the IPC - Industrial Prison Complex,100's of thousands locked up for marijuana useage ! Jon Corzine types walk away.We need to spend more money On rehab and mental health, Not prison.This government needs to go To REHAB, They're a WME - "Weapon of Mass Embarressment".
Lynn Coppess November 08, 2013 at 09:15 AM
I agree it's too much time in prison. I also hope he gave up the drug pushers he was dealing with. We need to get rid of that vermin before they get any more kids hooked on drugs.
Katy Casey November 08, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Not to condone or excuse Mr. Bennett's actions, but I have to expound on pat's comment: Angelo Mozilo, former CEO and founder of Countrywide Financial was responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in damage prior to 2008. How many people did he rob - about 500,000? He is a thief of the highest caliber. Mozilo hasn't done a day in jail and they only made him pay back 1/2 of his "golden parachute" from when he abandoned his defunkt, corrupt abomination.

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