$1 million in cash stolen from home safe in North Branford

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Feb. 27, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — Police have arrested three East Haven men on charges that they stole $1 million in cash from a North Branford resident who hit a lottery jackpot more than 20 years ago and was keeping the winnings in a home safe.

Two of the men arrested are the grandson and son-in-law, respectively, of the alleged victim, and the third man is a friend and neighbor of the other two, police said.

The thefts allegedly occurred on Nov. 5, when other family members were at a confirmation party, and Thanksgiving Day, Detective Sgt. Ken McNamara said. The North Branford man, whom police are not identifying, noticed on Jan. 15 that the money was missing from a safe in his house.

The victim, who is in his 60s, won $1 million in the lottery in 1986 and received periodic payments of the winnings until 2006, according to police. He kept the money in bills of different denominations in the safe and was apparently saving it for retirement, McNamara said. The arrested men allegedly took the pins off the safe and pried the door open to access the money.

North Branford police have recovered about $219,000 of the stolen money, McNamara said.

On Sunday, North Branford police arrested Raffaele Iuliano Jr., 18; his father, Raffaele Iuliano Sr., 44; and Joseph Bernardo, 24. All three live on Oregon Avenue in East Haven.

McNamara said he believes the suspects may have spent some of the money on a cruise and home renovations.

Raffaele Iuliano Jr. and Bernardo were each charged with first-degree larceny, second-degree burglary, second-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, and first-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, according to police. Raffaele Iuliano Sr. was charged with first-degree larceny and first-degree aiding and abetting larceny.

Each man was released on $50,000 bail. The Iulianos are due in Superior Court in New Haven March 6, and Bernardo has a court date of March 7, according to police.

McNamara said that officers started looking into the Iuliano family because the relative whose money was stolen suspected them.

Some of the stolen cash was allegedly being stored at the house of a friend of the Iulianos. McNamara said the friend gave police about $118,000, and he expects that more arrests will be made in the case. Bernardo gave police about $101,000, McNamara said.

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