On October 15, 2022, the Watervliet Police Department investigated a complaint from an 89-year-old father who received a call from a person who falsely stated he represented the Public Defender’s Office. The impersonator requested $6,500 to help the man’s daughter, who was said to be arrested after a motor vehicle crash that injured a pregnant woman. In response, the father immediately provided the money to the caller.
A second attempt for money was made on October 17, 2022. As a result, the Watervliet Police Department, with assistance from the New York State Police Community Stabilization Unit and the Green Island Police Department, intercepted a cash package that was scheduled for delivery to the suspect.
Watervliet Police charged Cristian DeJesus Taveras Rodriguez, a 23-year-old male (photo attached) from Connecticut with two counts of Scheme to Defraud in the 1st Degree (Class E Felony), Criminal Impersonation in the 1st Degree (Class E Felony) and Grand Larceny in the 4th Degree (Class E Felony).
Rodriguez was arraigned in Watervliet City Court and released on an appearance ticket.
“Most of us have been solicited by these types of loathsome and treacherous criminals. Due to the spineless distance they intentionally place between themselves and their victims, they are rarely brought to justice,” said Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni.
Based on information developed during the investigation, detectives are attempting to determine if Rodriguez has victimized, or attempted to victimize, other people under similar circumstances. Anyone with information is urged to contact Watervliet Police Detectives at 518-270-3892.
“These crimes are designed to manipulate vulnerable people in our communities. The Watervliet Police Department, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to relentlessly pursue the offenders responsible for these morally poisonous acts and bring them to justice,” concluded Centanni.
The department encourages people to inform their family and friends that legitimate government entities do NOT solicit personal information and/or ask for payment via phone. In these cases, criminals pose as government officials who scare and intimidate victims, often with time-sensitive demands that are professionally executed. Many times, victims of these crimes are reluctant to notify law enforcement due to embarrassment and shame. It is important for victims to realize they are not alone. Local law enforcement agencies strongly encourage anyone who has sent money (or other items) under similar circumstances to contact their local police department.