MASSENA - Massena-based state police have charged Austin B. Villnave, 19, of 144 South Raquette River Road, Massena, with three counts of third-degree burglary and four counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief stemming from an Aug. 3 incident at Journeyman Self Storage, 2 Haverstock Road.
Troopers had previously charged Justin P. Love, 21, of 81 Chase St., Massena, with those same charges as part of that investigation.
Villnave, who was already housed at the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility on other burglary charges, was arraigned by Massena Town Justice James M. Crandall and sent back to the county jail with bail set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond on the new charges.
Love had been arraigned by Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow and sent to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail set at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond.
State police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Sr. Investigator Judith M. Trimboli said the investigation into the Journeyman Self Storage had been closed but was reopened when new information was provided to investigators during their investigation into gun thefts in December 2012 in the town of Colton. She said no additional arrests are pending in the case.
Love and Villnave allegedly cut the locks off four storage units, entered three storage units and stole property from two of the units.
The duo reportedly stole tools, including a motorcycle jack and a welder, from a unit rented to Thomas J. Chapman and a 32-inch flat screen television from a unit rented to Stacy M. Rusaw. They also reportedly entered a storage unit rented by Rick Fuller and moved boxes but did not steal any items and broke two locks on a unit rented to Rebecca L. McDermott.
A third man told police he had traveled with Villnave, Love and Villnaves grandmother, Barbara Fairbridge, to the reservation to get cigarettes in the fall of 2013 when the plan was launched to steal items from the storage sheds.
Austin said he wanted to hit the storage sheds because he thought there would be some good stuff because he thought there would be some good stuff in there, and he could make money off it, the Massena-area man said in the statement he provided police.
He said he received another call from Villnave about 3 a.m. the next morning asking if he could pick him up so he could assist him in selling some of the items he had stolen. He said Villnaves grandmother was driving when they picked him up.
I was surprised his grandmother was there. I know if my grandmother knew I was doing anything wrong my head would roll, and his grandmother is helping him break into places. The car was full of tools and stuff. The car was so full of stuff that I had to sit on stuff, he said, noting the items ranged from Craftsman saws, wrenches and a welder to a Nintendo game system and a flat screen TV.
Ms. Fairbridge, in her statement to troopers, acknowledged she had overheard her grandson talk about making some money when she was on the cigarette run. I told them they should get real jobs. After we got cigarettes the boys asked me to drop them off at The Corner Store.
She said she went to her daughters house at 144 South Raquette River Road and a few hours later her grandson called her and asked her to pick him back up at The Corner Store. She said she picked up her grandson, Love and Eric Deshane.
Austin asked me to pop the trunk, and they loaded some stuff in there. I knew something wasnt right with all of it, and I figured they were up to something. I just knew they had stolen whatever they had because they all have sticky fingers. Theyve stolen all kinds of things from me before too, she noted.
Ms. Fairbridge told troopers she had chastised the young men for her putting her in a bad situation, and her grandson had responded, Nana, shut the (expletive) up, she recalled. He told me it was none of my business and to forget about it.
She said she had dropped her passengers off at a home off East Orvis Street, and they had removed the items from her vehicles trunk. She said she had rejected her grandsons request to stay in town and pick them up a while later and also denied Villnaves request to borrow her vehicle. She said she drove back to her home in Waddington.
She said when she woke up around 11:30 a.m. the next day she discovered her vehicle was missing. I dont know how they got out to Waddington but Austin and his friends stole my car all the time to go do whatever they did. I used to tell him that I would have him arrested for taking my car all the time, but I didnt want to be the cause of him getting in trouble, Ms. Fairbridge added.