Guatemalan Man Held on $500,000 Bail in East End Art Thefts

Authorities suspect 24-year-old man did not act alone.

A Guatemalan man suspected in a string of East End art burglaries pleaded not guilty Friday morning to a grand jury indictment for six counts of burglary and one count of grand larceny.

Authorities say Angel Giovanni Palencia, a 24-year-old and Medford resident, burglarized a total of six homes in Southampton Village, East Hampton Village, Southold and Shelter Island in January and February, stealing somewhere between $550,000 and $600,000 in art and other valuables, such as a sterling silver tea set and a stamp collection.

All in all, Palencia is suspected to have stolen more than 40 artworks and valuables. Some of the works reported stolen have yet to be recovered while some recovered artworks are not from any of the reported burglaries, said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota during a press conference following Palencia's arraignment at Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside. Spota said he expects that second-home owners will return to their East End estates this summer and discover art has gone missing.

Work recovered during the investigation were displayed at the press conference. Many were appraised in the tens of thousands of dollars, and a painting titled "In the Vineyard" by Daniel Ridgway Knight, stolen in East Hampton, was valued at $140,000.

Palencia was connected to the art thefts when a Southold art dealer who he tried to sell paintings to learned the works were stolen, according to authorities. Palencia tried on three occasions to sell art to the dealer, the first time in December 2010, telling him he had helped a man clean out a basement and he gave him the art, Spota said. That occasion came before the six reported East End burglaries, which all occurred in January or February.

The dealer declined to buy anything from Palencia in December and again in January. The third time, on April 5, the dealer, who wished not to be named, called an appraiser who informed him the artworks had been reported stolen, Spota said. With the dealer's consent, police recorded a conversation between him and Palencia, during which Palencia tried to negotiate the sale of the paintings, authorities said.

During the arraignment, Palencia spoke through an interpreter that Judge Stephen Braslow requested. Prosecutor Nancy Clifford, the deputy bureau chief of major crime, said Palencia had no problem speaking English when he tried to sell the paintings.

Palencia was represented by court-appointed attorney John Halverson of the Law Offices of Stephen McGiff, a Patchogue firm.

Clifford requested bail be set high because of the strength of the case and certainty of conviction, and because he has a Guatemalan passport. She said Palencia had a 2007 conviction for driving while ability impaired.

Judge Stephen Braslow ordered Palencia held on $500,000 cash bail during his arraignment Friday, though the bail was moot. Authorities said Palencia is in the United States illegally and there is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold on him.

At the press conference, Spota said all of the burglarized homes had locked windows and alarms, though none of the alarms were set off. He said Palencia admitted being previously familiar with some of the homes he burglarized; he did carpentry work at a Southold home and painted at a Shelter Island home. But Palencia said he chose other houses at random, a contention Spota said investigators do not believe, adding that they suspect Palencia did not act alone.

In addition to trying to sell art in Southold, Palencia successfully sold works to two Nassau County art dealers.

According to the grand jury indictment, the burglaries occurred at Gin Lane and Captains Neck Lane in Southampton, two houses on Rocky Point Road on Shelter Island, Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton and Soundview Avenue in Southold.

Jerry Can April 16, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Hey Spota... Whats the story on Steve Levy? When you going to tell us what he did and what is he doing still in office? Please tell us that before your next photo op. Thanx
Jim April 16, 2011 at 02:14 AM
People that have raped or murdered in Suffolk County do not get held on 500k bond. It shows you what the legal system deems important. How dare you steal rich people's art work!!!
Pete Driscoll April 16, 2011 at 03:27 PM
It's refreshing to see a latino with fine taste. With such an aethestic eye he might be a gifted Central American artistic genius trying to feed his family until he's discovered. I'll bet there is a more knowledgable white art thief directing the breaking and entry from behind the scenes. Chances are there were many more easily saleable items all around this home.
SUMMER Resident April 16, 2011 at 07:35 PM
So now will he be sent back to Guatamela free and clear so he can come back illegally or will we house, feed and clothed him for a year or so, instead of the usual welfare, food stamps and free medical?
MJD0615 April 17, 2011 at 12:09 AM
I have sent numerous emails and made endless phone calls to our self-serving politicians...Steve Israel, in particular. He is one of the biggest supporters of illegal immigrants....I get the generic email answer "thanking me for my views." I even sent DA Thomas Spota an email asking him why this art thief was not deported back in 2007 when he was convicted of DWI. In my opinion, the politicians are the problem, beginning with Obama. The Democrats want illegals here so they can pander to the respective populations, in hopes of garnering more votes. The Republicans want them here as a source of cheap labor. I would love to see Ron Paul and/or Donald Trump run for President....I respect the fact that both of them are their own men. Neither one of them is a Nancy Pelosi "puppet."
Joni Friedman April 17, 2011 at 02:35 AM
There are so many hard working and honest immigrants working amonst us and beside us. Where is all the racist anger coming from? You are all drinking the wine and eating the fruit and vegetables tended by and picked by the very people You are speaking about wth such hostility.
SUMMER Resident April 17, 2011 at 04:10 AM
jorge, he is illegal he gets more than a legal American.
SUMMER Resident April 17, 2011 at 04:14 AM
joni friedman HELLO!!!! he is illegal.
MJD0615 April 17, 2011 at 05:08 AM
Joni.....I am anti-illegal immigrant and it doesn't matter where that illegal comes from. I am 100% Irish, but I have no use for illegal immigrants who come here from Ireland. My anger and hostility comes from the fact that illegals are costing Americans and legal citizens millions of tax dollars that we don't have. Illegals are not here to assimmilate...they are here as profiteers. They don't pay income taxes, they don't pay school taxes, they get free medical care, food stamps, free legal aid and interpreters when they break the law and go to gourt....and the list goes on and on. We have to pay more to subsidize their "freebies." Yes, I'm angry....they don't belong here. They are like parasites feeding off a host. And, Joni....if you weren't so blinded by denial...you would realize illegals take much more from our economy than what they contribute to it. I would much rather have wine, vegatables and fruits picked and processed by American citizens.....even if they cost more!!
Michael Sorrentino (Editor) April 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM
Please refrain from using offensive language or making personal attacks in the comments section. If you do so, your comments will immediately be deleted, your Patch account may be suspended and this thread will be locked to further comments. Thank you.
glory days April 17, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Ahhh no suprise here! You NYC folks keep hiring them and using the worn out excuse, that "we are just helping the poor imigrants" The only thing you are helping is your pocketbooks and killing the local people. When your lawn funiture, pool pump, outside belongings go missing, look no further than your illegal (but cheap) lawn man. When your home is mysteriously broken into, think about who last worked on your home then try to find him using the name he gave you... ain't gonna happen.. WAKE UP! They are illegal aka criminals that have no stake in this community but to drain it and send it home. Keep hiring them and that is who you will be living with, because the rest of us can't make a living and WE ARE OUTTA HERE!
jorge April 17, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Where I live the only industry are major hotels/casinos that are well known for hiring illegal aliens that can't even communicate in English, nor they bother to learn it. Last year a local politician collected enough signatures in the hopes of passing an Arizona law. He collected more than enough signatures and guess what folks, the Union people from other State came over immediately and organized marches, protests, and what not and that was the end of that idea. We never heard of that politician again. There's a well known nursery in this town, they have several stores, they do not hire illegals but just outside their businesses you see dozens and dozens of illegals trying to get a job from the customers. This got so bad that customers made a formal complaint to said nursery who in turn installed fences around their properties. Immediately the illegals got hold of a certain t.v. channel and newspapers and once again the law breakers were seen as the victims, however, the owner had to fight at a great cost to keep the fences. I suppose that defenders of these law breakers are the ones who hire them outside Wal Mart, Sam's Club, nurseries, construction sites, etc. This is not an exclusive problem of the US, however, Merkel for instance, has been rounding them up in Germany and she deports them at a rate of 50k a year, whole families, meaning, anchor babies included.
jorge April 17, 2011 at 02:14 PM
anything else? what happened to freedom of expression? don't you understand that we've had it up to here with the millions of law breakers, the politicians looking the other way, and the liberal press supporting them. You can delete my comments, suspend my account, in fact I expect it, I'm a law abiding citizen.
jorge April 17, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Folks, go to ILW.COM, scroll all the way down, click on Discussion Board, and enjoy! You will see the illegals asking advice on how to manipulate the law and the good attorneys and/or regular people giving them advice on how to do it. Most of the advisors are foreigners, some even live in Canada, yet they have a right to express their opinions and help the law breakers.
MJD0615 April 17, 2011 at 03:57 PM
I do not ever use a company that hires illegal immigrants. If people stopped using landscapers, contractors, etc. who hired illegal immigrants...these businesses would stop doing it in a minute. If nobody hired illegals...they would have no reason to stay here.... And, Michael...I hope this comment is tame enough for you....
jorge April 17, 2011 at 05:08 PM
Forty nine States voted Nevada as the "dumbest State with the dumbest people" and they were right, I know, I live here. The influx of illegals has become worse since the Arizona Law passed, they are also coming from California, they brought/bring their endless families, our schools are bankrupt, the medical facilities look like a zoo, the crime and drug trafficking is unreal, the neighborhoods look like ghettos, the noise, that awful music emanating from their cars and houses, children running wild screaming all day long, they sell food all over town, which they keep in filthy bins and use stolen supermarket carts to carry them, they don't have licenses, health card, don't pay taxes, and to call attention they sound a loud horn, they trespass private properties ignoring the signs, and yet the politicians, the police, and ICE do absolutely nothing in spite of our complaints. Once in a while ICE will conduct a raid at the bus depots and arrest them but this is only a show to appease the populace, meaning me. How many times have I heard Mexicans say, i.e. that his brother, or some other person, drove his car to mexico and he will report it as stolen and collect from the insurance company. We also have a great influx of Africans, Hindus, and Filipinos, and they are no different from the regular illegals. And yes, I was referring to the criminal illegal aliens on this post. When you break the law you are a criminal, therefore, I used the right term.
S.B. Bonacker April 17, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Yup, the Illegals are now finding yet another way to beat the system! Commit a crime, with maybe a 50% chance they'll be caught - but if they are, 3 squares a day, with clothing, a roof over their head and "rights" that await them - so they still get to live off taxpayers backs and stay here. The crime in Springs has increased three-fold over the past 10 years, and it seems to be directly connected to the influx of Illegals, who rob from their own neighbors. All I can see at this point is that things are really coming to a head on this issue, and I'm afraid that emotions are going escalate and something pretty bad may happen soon with Locals vs. Illegals in Springs. I hope it is not violent. But clearly, we need some kind of a change. Things can't go on like this. Open your eyes people!
glory days April 17, 2011 at 08:40 PM
We in Springs have our eyes wide open, and the results will be happening bit by bit. As the crime, school taxes etc. rise, so does the anger.
glory days April 17, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Windmill, I watch who is picking them up and how. They have a pecking order, and a cell phone warning system, many picking them up are Hispanic contractors. You only have to go to the large landscape firms to find out where most have disappeared to. Go to the greenhouses in East Hampton not going to mention who, but the government has turned their backs on us for sure. The police should stop the large landscape trucks and tractor trailers, many do not have licenses let alone commercial ones, I know that for a fact.
Bryan Aley April 18, 2011 at 12:19 AM
Bonacker in Hawaii, Very interesting reading everyone's comments. It was getting bad enough before I left the Hamptons in 1990! Back then all that immigration had to do is go to any one of the many restaurant kitchens and their they would have all of the clients they could handle to arrest. I remember a number of raids out in Montauk. Most of the bigger resorts out there lost most of the kitchen and bust boy staff. Here in Hawaii during the boom( which was just 3/4 years ago) they had large companies building these Hugh resorts /time shares in Maui and selling out before they were finished. Well I.N.S. swooped down on the construction sites of more then one a couple of times. After that no problem. Take away the source of income then they do move on. As for the comments I see about being flag as inappropriate , I have to laugh! That is the person who is working for The patch website trying to protect his job and this website from any possibility of lawsuits. I'm amazed at what he thinks needs to be flag! Can't flag me. Not once did I mention a particular race or called them illegal aliens. Oops! OH No ! dang it! Guest I am going to get a flag now! Great proud to be a flag carrying American! count me in Boys ;-)
jorge April 18, 2011 at 12:38 AM
Do you know how they get the cell phones? From the gov't program, free cell phones for the poor, minutes included. This program was for the old, the sick, now it has extended to welfare recipients, so, even if you are illegal you qualify because of the anchor babies. Check Safelink and Assurance, just to name two companies.
jorge April 18, 2011 at 12:48 AM
The comment I posted before which was deleted addressed the issue of Social Security and Medicare. I have e-mailed ALL the congressmen and senators for years, to wit: "If you really want to fix Soc Sec and Medicare, STOP ISSUING CHECKS TO FOREIGNERS WHO HAVE NOT WORKED A DAY IN THIS COUNTRY, THEREFORE, THEY HAVE NOT CONTRIBUTED ONE PENNY TO THE SYSTEM'". These people get SSI, which is another word for Soc Sec check, and because the amount is small, they automatically get Welfare (food stamps, low income housing, free utilities, free phones, and any other goody to which they are not entitled morally or ethically). They also get Medicare and to cover any gap, they get Medicaid. If families cannot afford to take care of their relatives back home they should not bring them over here, and I will say it again, certain ethnicities are well known for procreating like there's no tomorrow. I see with my own eyes their numerous aunts, uncles, grand parents, and they all go straight to their nearest Soc Sec office to apply and get benefits. No wonder Merkel took charge and she has been deporting illegals at the rate of 50k a year, and she doesn't care if they were born in Germany.
L.C. April 20, 2012 at 06:12 AM
In my opinion, no one owns this land. We are all human. If I want to live in Cuba, I should be allowed. And if people of any race come and live here, they should be treated as citizens, given tax ID numbers, pay their portions of Medicare/medicaide (whichever one it is..), abide by the rules, etc.. This is how we all got to be here right, melting pot? Why has it gotten to be so confusing. I witnessed a friend "buy" his citizenship in the United States the proper way, with attorneys, sponsors, and about $20,000 and 13 years later he was a citizen! The government is making plenty of money selling citizenship. they just aren't sharing it with us. Maybe the problem is the difficulty of the process of becoming a citizen, I'm sure there's a lot I will never understand, but it's better then absolutely nothing being done..
Drtee-Dancer April 20, 2012 at 09:55 AM
The Donald would get the job done.
Jaguar-Guy April 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM
I am not touching this one !!!!!!!!!!!!!
East End Farmer April 20, 2012 at 01:52 PM
The Donald is busy combing his hair...
Drtee-Dancer April 20, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Hey.... takes a lot of time to get it to look like that !!
Elizabeth K April 20, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I've recently whitnessed a man, who I Know primarily speaks english, pretend that he couldn't speak it. This happened when getting picked up for work. What's up with that?
Chris McManus April 21, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Bon Voyage! :)


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something