A man accused of breaking into a South Beach deli during the hurricane evacuation reportedly told police he just wanted cigarettes.
Jimmy Vargas, 46, of Cedar Grove Avenue, was arraigned Monday with his alleged accomplice Victor Collazo for appearing in El Jardin Deli on Sand Lane after it had been boarded up.
Vargas’ legal strategy apparently may be to plead “opportunism” rather than “guilty,” saying he simply walked into the store after it already had been opened up.
“This store, I understand, was already broken into,” his lawyer told the court, according to the Staten Island Advance. “He heard about it, and made a mistake.”
Police say Collazo, 45, of Sand Lane, was the one who had originally broken in the night before, prying off some of the boarding and breaking a window.
The court may be going along with this story. Vargas was released on his own recognizance, while Collazo was held on $500 bail.
In other alleged looting news: Police now know why a man and woman had real badges from the Department of Corrections as they went around asking people whether they were evacuating and, you know, leaving their homes unguarded for awhile.
It turns out one of the suspects, Daniel DiGianni, 42, really had been a city correction officer – back in the 1990s or so.
He and his girlfriend – fellow arrestee Linda Fleshner, 28 – were wearing the badges simply because they’d evacuated from their home and had brought along these items for sentimental value, DiGianni’s lawyer told the court yesterday.
Other possibly sentimental items the couple had on them when arrested included a pair of handcuffs and a gravity knife, police said.