May 03, 2006

Suspected Squatter Snagged

Samuel Ciopasiu seemed to have found a way to combine caviar taste with a Spam budget. Too bad it wasn't legal. Cops say the 32-year-old homeless man found his way into a half dozen south of the highway homes during a four month timeframe, staying at the tony addresses and, in some cases, making use of pricey accoutrement, like one homeowner's Porsche and another's Mercedes.

A guest of Riverhead jail at press time, held in lieu of $39,000 bail, Ciopasiu allegedly made himself at home in manses on Spaeth, Heller and Further Lanes in East Hampton Village, as well as Daniels Lane and Sand Dune Court in Sagaponack and Mid Ocean Road in Bridgehampton. Southampton Town Police found him last Thursday morning after they were alerted to a potential trespasser at the Sand Dune Court domicile in the hamlet recently renowned for boasting the country's most expensive zip code.

According to STPD's Det. Sgt. Randy Hintze, Ciopasiu would "find vacant houses, take up residence, clean himself up and use their belongings."

Beyond allegedly using cars at at least two locales — a Benz boosted from the Mid Ocean Road abode and a Porsche purloined in one of two Further Lane break-ins — Ciopasiu is accused of taking credit cards, one from a car parked on Heller Lane — and using them to underwrite a lifestyle that included java from Starbucks and groceries from Citarella in East Hampton.

Last Friday, East Hampton Village Police were waiting to arrest Ciopasiu, who had been remanded to the county jail following arraignment on the Southampton cases. Det. Sgt. Margaret Dunn noted an unusual aspect of the case. Last year cops arrested the suspect and he subsequently served jail time for a burglary committed on Further Lane. Following his release from jail in January, she said, "He went right back to the same place he was arrested last time."

Cops say the suspect was a tidy and perhaps even considerate sort. He didn't sleep on the beds in the houses, preferring to repose on couches or the floor. "He didn't think it was right to use their beds," Dunn related. With the exception of plumbing problems at one house, in most cases, no damage was incurred in the commission of the burglaries. "He picked houses where he could find a door or a window that wasn't locked," Dunn explained.

Ciopasiu supposedly stayed in some of the houses for weeks at a clip. At one crime scene, he didn't cast himself in the guest role. Instead, he allegedly stole some $600 worth of music CDs . . . to play in the Porsche he borrowed from another household down the lane.

Police believe there may be additional victims and have distributed a photo. The investigation continues and so far, Ciopasiu has garnered over a dozen counts relating to burglary, grand larceny, forgery, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal trespass, petty larceny, criminal tampering, and criminal mischief, the last relating to damage done to the Mercedes he allegedly took.

In East Hampton, village police expect to arraign the suspect later this week.

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