WNYT.com

Lawmaker Lopez becomes victim of alleged lawbreakers

Posted at: 06/22/2013 11:49 PM
By: Dan Levy

SCHOHARIE - Unlike most crime victims, state Assemblyman Peter Lopez is in a position to change things.

The republican lawmaker from Schoharie, and his wife, were burglarized earlier this year, and part of the reason they haven't gotten their items back yet, at least according to state police, is because of uncooperative businessmen.

In telling their story Saturday, the Lopez' wanted to keep things in perspective. Given the storms, the floods, and the devastation that others in the Schoharie Valley have suffered through over the past two years, having your house ransacked and robbed, Peter Lopez says, doesn't come close in comparison.

It was near the end of April when Lisa Lopez got home and discovered her home had been burglarized.

"It was our bedroom primarily that had been ransacked and jewelry was gone and some cash was missing," said Lisa Lopez. "A lot of it was my grandmother's jewelry which was more meaningful then anything, just sentimental."

Citing a small rural community, Peter Lopez said the alarm system is never used.

Within a week, state police had arrested two 20-year old suspects, Bryan Lemoine and Connor Casabonne, however the Lopez' weren't able to get their stuff back yet.

"Apparently when they broke into the house and tore everything up, they went into our bedroom then literally dumped things on the bed and sifted through them," Peter said, "They continued the sifting process on the road. The police were finding things in ditches and were coming back with things that had been thrown out as they were driving."

State Police say what ever wasn't tossed out the window was sold at various area pawn shops. One of the pawn shops that allegedly bought some of the stolen merchandise was Regency Jeweler's on Altamont Avenue in Rotterdam, but when police detectives went there and asked the owners to turn it over to them, the owners refused.

"It's troubling because the troopers really felt like they found my jewelry and items from the other woman (a neighbor's house that was also robbed)," said Lisa.

This week, police arrested the owners of Regency Jewelers, Joseph Delefano and Richard Poltorak and charged them with possessing stolen property. Delefano was also charged with falsifying business records.

That the businessmen were allegedly uncooperative with police troubles the assemblyman.

"If the state police feel that they are limited with their ability to protect property, we need to have a thoughtful discussion about how we can improve that situation," said Lopez.

The alleged burglars remained in jail Saturday night. The jewelry stores owners, although both charged with a felony, were given appearance tickets.

Peter Lopez now says he intends to use the alarm system.