WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — A New Jersey man has been found guilty of stealing more than 8,000 cartons of cigarettes from a Wethersfield warehouse in March 2011.
On Monday, a federal jury in New Haven returned a guilty verdict for 53 year-old Andrew Oreckinto of Matawan, New Jersey. The trial began on Feb. 6.
According to the evidence introduced during the trial, at approximately 7:00 a.m. on March 20, 2011, Wethersfield Police responded to an open garage door complaint at New Britain Candy, a business and warehouse located at 24 Maple Street in Wethersfield. The business distributes items to convenience stores in Connecticut and neighboring states. A glue-like substance had been forced into the front door lock causing it to be inoperable, exterior surveillance camera wires and a phone line had been cut, and alarm panels and speakers had been disabled. Approximately 8,012 cartons of cigarettes, as well as a pallet jack, were missing from the warehouse. The stolen cigarettes had a wholesale value of approximately $300,000 and a retail value of approximately $500,000.
One individual, subsequently identified as Oreckinto, was seen on video surveillance footage. He was dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt, dark pants, black gloves, a black face mask, and wore a headband light around his head.
Prior to the burglary, Oreckinto had stolen a white box truck from a business in Hartford. The day after the burglary, the truck was found near a commercial construction site in Stamford. The stolen pallet jack was recovered from the cargo area of the truck.
The investigation included extensive analysis of prepaid cellphones and cell tower information. Examination of the call history of Oreckinto’s prepaid phone ultimately led investigators to several other prepaid phones that had been used in multiple commercial burglaries in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Oreckinto previously was convicted of two of these other burglaries, including a burglary that occurred at a Waldbaum’s Supermarket in Rockville Centre, N.Y., overnight on December 31, 2010 and January 1, 2011, and a commercial warehouse burglary in Florham Park, N.J., on April 28, 2008, during which $100,000 worth of copper was stolen. Oreckinto was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for both of these burglaries.
At the time of Oreckinto’s arrest for the New Jersey burglary, a search of his car revealed a list of licensed cigarette distributors in the State of Connecticut that had been printed from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services web site. The list, which included the New Britain Candy warehouse in Wethersfield, also contained several handwritten notations next to many of the businesses, at least three of which also have been burglarized.
The jury found Oreckinto guilty of one count of theft from an interstate shipment, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for May 8, 2017.
This investigation has been conducted by the Wethersfield Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Nassau County Police Department and the Florham Park (N.J.) Police Department.