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Bayside cop faces larceny, forgery charges in Suffolk

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Elardo Santo,...

By Sophia Chang

A Bayside police officer was arrested last week in Suffolk County on charges of grand larceny and forgery after he was accused of using a stolen credit card to pay a nearly $500 bill at a Long Island supermarket, New York City police said.

Elardo Santo, one of two community affairs officers for the 111th Precinct, was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree forgery for allegedly stealing a man’s credit card from his car May 29 in the area of Larkfield Road and Burr Road in East Northport, Santo’s hometown.

Santo then allegedly used the card at a local Stop & Shop in East Northport later that night, according to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

Grand larceny and forgery are both considered felonies in New York state, punishable by up to seven years in jail.

“A person is accused of grand larceny when property is stolen and that property consists of a credit or debit card,” said Bob Clifford, a spokesman for the DA’s office.

The charged against Santo were filed June 22.

According to a statement filed with the DA by Michael Murphy, a loss-prevention store detective for Stop & Shop, Santo was arrested after local police informed the supermarket that they were investigating a stolen credit card with an illegal transaction made at 11 p.m. on May 29 at Stop & Shop. After reviewing the supermarket’s surveillance tapes, Murphy pinpointed Santo as the person who used the credit card at the cash register for a total purchase of $498.51, the DA said.

Community reaction in the 111th Precinct, which covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and part of Auburndale, was one of uniform bewilderment.

“We gave him one of our community awards last year. He has a plaque on his wall from the East Bayside Homeowners Association. It’s an absolute surprise,” civic president Frank Skala said, noting that Santo was reportedly just months from qualifying for a police pension after nearly 20 years of service.

“Everything we did vis a vis EBHA went through him,” Skala said. “A very sad thing. I hope there’s some way this is all explainable.”

Santo has been suspended with pay while the case is being investigated by the NYPD Internal Affairs, 111th Precinct Capt. Thomas Pilkington said.

“I’m mandated to take him back” as community affairs officer if he is cleared, Pilkington said. While he could not comment on the details of the investigation, he said, “I have a gut feeling that he’ll probably be coming back to work.”

After Santo’s arrest, he was released on his own recognizance. No bail was set. This was the first arrest on Santo’s record, according to Clifford, the DA spokesman. His next court date was set for Aug. 17 at the Suffolk County courthouse.

Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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