A live-in janitor from a Kew Gardens synagogue, who stole eight Torahs and their sterling silver adornments from within the temple last summer, will be getting his mail at Rikers Island for a year.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that Eric Giraldo, 24, formerly of 71-25 Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor attempted grand larceny. He had been charged with a felony, and if convicted, faced 15 years in a state prison.
Sometime between August 9 and August 16 last year, Giraldo opened the cabinet at the front of the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens with keys he snatched from the office.
Inside were the scrolls containing hand-illuminated Hebrew Scripture and the pure silver implements used to read them. The theft was discovered at the beginning of Saturday services, in front of a stunned congregation that included elderly Holocaust survivors.
On Thursday, March 5, Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt sentenced Giraldo to a year in jail, and issued an order of protection, barring him from visiting the Temple, where he had lived while employed as a janitor, for eight years.
“This case is particularly troublesome because a trusted employee with access to valuable and important materials chose to break that trust for possible financial gain,” Brown said. “The sentence is both justified and necessary.”
Giraldo admitted stealing the Torahs with intent to sell them. He confessed taking them to the home of a friend, 28-year-old Alan Lozano of 165-09 Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows.
Detectives and cops from the 107th Precinct recovered the Torahs and silver pointers from Lozano’s closet.
Last month, Lozano pleaded guilty to petit larceny and received 40 days of community service.