EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 26, 2013

AG: Merrimack Valley ring responsible for ATM breaks, other thefts

LAWRENCE — The sentencing of a Lawrence man to 16 years in state prison has brought to a conclusion a six-year investigation into a statewide ATM and electronics theft ring operating from the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office announced yesterday.

A total of 16 men and women — more than half of them from Lawrence — have pleaded guilty and got sentences ranging from probation to 16 years in state prison. The guilty pleas were made over the last 21 months during an investigation involving the state police, FBI and local and county law enforcement agencies.

Among the last to be sentenced were Miguel Caraballo, 42, and George Velasquez, 36, both of Lawrence. They received the longest sentences.

On May 22, Caraballo, the alleged ringleader, pleaded guilty to indictments in Essex, Hampshire, Norfolk, Middlesex, Franklin and Worcester counties and received 16 years in state prison, with 10 years of probation to serve upon completion of his sentence. He was also ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined. His charges included 11 counts of breaking and entering in the night, five counts of breaking and entering into a vault, 12 counts related to stolen motor vehicles and 14 counts of conspiracy.

Velasquez pleaded guilty to indictments in Middlesex, Norfolk and Worcester counties and was sentenced to seven to eight years in state prison, with 10 years of probation to serve upon completion of his sentence. He was also ordered to pay $134,162 in restitution. His charges include six counts of breaking and entering in the night time and six counts of conspiracy.

The defendants also included James McNeil, 45, of Haverhill, who during the 1990s was part of a safecracking and burglary ring that carried out as many as 600 jobs in the six New England states. The ring’s biggest hauls included more than $200,000 from a safe in the Andover home of the owner of the former Cedar Crest Restaurant; $200,000 worth of merchandise from an appliance store in Connecticut in 1993, and $190,000 in jewels from Gold Leaf Jewelers in Haverhill in 1997.

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