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Two and a half years after East Lyme police spotted two men fleeing from a storage unit packed with more than $1 million worth of stolen items, one of the suspects has pleaded guilty to burglarizing dozens of homes throughout the state.
Bernard McAllister, 42, of Lisbon will be sentenced in September to 25 years in prison, suspended after 16 years served and five years of probation for racketeering, first-degree larceny by possession and six counts of third-degree burglary.
Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Shay from the Statewide Prosecution Bureau of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office said McAllister acknowledged his involvement in all of the crimes of which he was accused.
“We came to an agreement on what a fair disposition would be, then for efficiency’s sake, we chose representative counts,” said Shay, who prosecuted the case with Assistant State’s Attorney David Applegate.
McAllister, who is being held in lieu of $617,500 at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, has been incarcerated since November 2010, when he and his alleged partner in crime, Mark Missino, 45, of Waterford, were arrested at a hotel in Leominster, Mass., and charged as fugitives from justice.
Over the next several months and years, as East Lyme and state police sifted through what they described as a “mountain” of evidence totaling more than 8,000 items, authorities charged the two men with breaking into homes throughout the region and state.
Locally, the men were accused of carrying out eight burglaries in East Lyme and nine in Stonington. The crimes stretched all the way to Greenwich and New Canaan, and the prosecution says that when East Lyme police caught them at the storage unit, the men were attempting to open a safe stolen from a Stamford home that contained $90,000 worth of jewelry.
In November 2011, a federal grand jury indicted the two men on federal firearms charges, alleging they illegally possessed 17 firearms, nine of which they knew had been stolen. Federal authorities said at the time that McAllister and Missino, both of whom have lengthy criminal records, may be subject to the Armed Career Criminal Act, and may face 15 years to life in prison.
East Lyme and Stonington police both charged the men under the Connecticut Corrupt Organizations and Racketeering Activity Act, alleging that each of the burglaries was interrelated; shared the similar purpose of monetary gain; targeted similar victims (residential homeowners); and shared a common method of commission.
Missino’s case is pending in Superior Court in Stamford, the same venue where McAllister pleaded guilty on May 31. The state court cases have spanned several court jurisdictions but were consolidated to the Stamford-Norwalk Judicial District.
As part of his plea agreement, McAllister signed a stipulated agreement, the contents of which were not placed on the court record. His attorney, Joseph A. Jaumann, said that by agreement, he could not discuss the details.
“I think, ultimately, the resolution will be seen as fair,” Jaumann said.
Online court records indicate that McAllister is expected to plead guilty to the federal charges on June 6. His federal public defender, Gary D. Weinberger, could not be reached to comment. Jaumann did say, however, that at last week’s hearing in state court, Judge Richard F. Comerford Jr. said McCallister’s state sentence would run concurrent to any federal sentence he receives.
McAllister and Missino, who described themselves as professional poker players, once appeared on the People’s Court TV show together for a case involving a dispute with a landlord. They told the judge in that case that they were longtime friends who had met in prison.
Missino, who has turned down a plea offer from the state and is awaiting trial, is being held in lieu of $1.69 million at the Bridgeport Correctional Center.