Two Elmhurst men have been charged for their alleged roles in four home burglaries in Queens, including one in Little Neck, the Queens district attorney said.
One of the defendants was alleged to have cased several residences with his 3-year-old daughter in tow and the duo was arrested after leaving the child unattended in a vehicle while attempting to fence stolen goods, Queens DA Richard Brown said.
Michael Natindim, 34, and Edgar Mortel, 22, both of whom are from Elmhurst, were arraigned late last week before Queens Criminal Court Judge Stephanie Zaro on counts of second-degree burglary, criminal possession of stolen property, possession of burglar's tools, criminal possession of a controlled substance, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal trespass.
Natindim, who was held on $40,000 bail, was additionally charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the DA said. Mortel was held on $15,000 bail. Both men will return to court on July 11.
"These are disturbing allegations," Brown said. "Burglary is a serious crime in and of itself, It is unthinkable that a father would put his innocent child in harm's way while allegedly driving under the influence of drugs and casing potential burglary targets."
Police followed the defendants in the early morning hours on June 26 as they drove around Queens in a Lincoln Navigator and stopped at three separate residences in Little Neck, Elmhurst and Flushing, the DA said.
At each location, Natindim was allegedly observed exiting the vehicle and walking into a fenced-in area of a private residence before returning to the vehicle and driving away.
The men have also been charged in connection with burglaries that occurred between June 22 and 25 in Kew Gardens Hills, Fresh Meadows and Flushing.
At 1:30 p.m., the defendants parked in front of an electronics repair business in Woodside and entered the store carrying various items that they placed on the counter, the DA said.
According to the criminal complaint, Natindim is alleged to have repeatedly asked the person behind the counter, "How much can you give me on the black market?"
Items on the counter including an ASUS laptop, an Apple external CD drive, an Apple iPhone and a watch.
The defendants were arrested on the spot and the items were seized, Brown said. At that point, Natindim allegedly told police that his child was in the vehicle.
Police allegedly observed that he appeared pale and disheveled with watery, bloodshot eyes and incoherent speech. He is alleged to have told police that he had been smoking meth.
Inside the vehicle, police are alleged to have recovered a Sony camcorder, Sony camera, Seagate hard drive, Metro PCS cell phone, Apple MacBook laptop and New York State benefit card, the DA said.
Flashlights, pliers, gloves and a pipe with residue believed to be methamphetamine were found inside the vehicle.
Police then searched Natindim's home, where they allegedly found a stolen credit card, two blow torches and additional meth, according to the criminal complaint.