Cops: Homeless man steals $30,000 in New Milford
NEW MILFORD — Looking for a place to stay the night last spring, one homeless man found $30,000 in cash in a vacant home, police said.
Leonard W. Russo, 24, is now staying in New Haven Correctional Center in lieu of $5,000 bond, charged with taking cash, electronics and antiques from a Jupiter Lane home. Police said he used a stolen debit card after he spent all the stolen cash.
“I originally went into the house just for the purpose of food and to bathe. I then took it upon myself to search the house for valuables,” police said Russo told them. “I was sitting the house that night and was pondering to myself about my current state of homelessness and decided to plunder the residence.”
Police said Russo walked in through an unlocked porch door and made his way to a locked walk-in closet. There, he told police he saw “many designer fashions, and the only thing that stood out to me was a picnic basket.”
In the basket, Russo found thousands of dollars in cash tucked neatly away in envelopes. He stuffed the cash in his pockets and made his way to Danbury Fair Mall, he said. The homeowner, who had been away for five months before she came home to New Milford April 29, had left the money there for home improvements and to pay property taxes, court documents said.
According to court documents, Russo spent $10,000 on toys, including a PlayStation 4, some video games, a 32-inch TV and a new cell phone. He spent several weeks at motels, and bought himself some new clothes, too.
Russo admitted to stealing from the home, police said. But they said he contends he only took $21,000, not $30,000.
To get a steady income, Russo tried to get a foothold in the drug-dealing businesses with another $10,000, police said. They said Russo gave the money to a friend who he thought would return from New York City with 60 grams of cocaine and 2 pounds of marijuana. That friend, and the money, never came back.
With all the money spent, Russo was destitute and homeless again, police said, and that’s when they claim he used the stolen debit card to buy cigarettes, some coffee and a few pairs of men’s socks. Police said they tracked him down through the use of the card.
Russo, who has previous burglary and larceny convictions, will next be in court on Nov. 15.
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