Thursday, January 29, 2009
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg
Harrison Police Crack Brutal Home Invasion Case
Prior to their arraignment in Harrison Town Court at noon on Thursday, Jan. 22, before Judge Ronald Bianci, the six perpetrators involved in a violent home invasion robbery at 209 Union Avenue in Harrison, Wednesday, September 3, 2008, between 7:10-7:30pm, were the subject of a press conference at Harrison Police Headquarters two hours earlier. Their victims had been William and Freida Schwartz, 75 and 73 years old,
respectively, a husband and wife, together with a caretaker, who had been brutalized and seriously injured; their heads slammed on their garage floor
before parting with cash, jewelery and their late-model Mercedes-Benz.
Harrison Police Captain Anthony Marraccini told reporters, “It was a very difficult case.” He then said, reassuringly, “But we got them all.” Marraccini, without specifying, then said, “They were involved in other crimes in other jurisdictions.”
Police Chief Dave Hall took over the microphone, declaring, “It’s a great day for the Harrison Police Department and all of the other agencies involved.” He went on, “The investigation was headed by Captain Marraccini, and involved the Bronx NYPD Robbery Squad, Steve Vandervelden, of the DA’s Of-fice, and the New York State Police, as well as Harrison officers Olson and Lucas and numerous other detectives and officers
Vandervelden, head of the DA’s Organized Crime Squad, spoke up, declaring, “The investigation was tremendous work by the Harrison Police on this heinous crime.” He promised, “They will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Chief Hall, stepping back behind the microphone, ex-plained to reporters that Gary Pilavdjian was the ringleader, a contractor who did work at the
victims’ home, casing it and setting them up. He explained that Pilavdjian and John Mandracchia planned the robbery and recruited the others.
The Guardian asked, “What weapons were used in the Harrison home invasion?” Hall responded, “No guns were used; only their fists.” Neither Hall nor Marraccini were willing to respond when The Guardian asked, “What other evidence of crimes was discovered when the arrest warrants were executed?” Hall did, however, reveal that the investigation took police to the Bronx; Brooklyn; Columbia, South Carolina; and New Orleans,
All six perpetrators have been preliminarily charged with First Degree Burglary, a Class-B Felony punishable by up to 25 years in State Prison. Hall indicated that he expected Assault, Robbery and Home Invasion charges to be added. The case will be heard by a grand jury this week.