This is one for the books. A case that will likely rattle
the law enforcement community, sending it into a tailspin, shaking its head and asking
"where did we go wrong?"
Meet Alberio Meneses, um . . . thats Mariano Gonzalez. No, its Bernardo
Ospina . . . or is it oh, heck! Theyre all one man Michael Perez,
Telmo Jara, Marin Gonzalo, Arcidio Rossi, John Brand, John Brown all one and the
In the interest of clarity, we will call him Meneses not that he would care if
we wrongly identified him.
The 50-year-old career burglar has racked up 30 arrests, 26 aliases (weve only
mentioned a few), 21 dates of birth, 15 Social Security numbers, 11 NYSID (NYPD Arrest)
numbers and nine outstanding warrants including one warrant for his 1994 escape
from an inmate Work Program while he was serving time at the Ulster Correctional Facility
in upstate New York.
Meneses arrest record dates back to at least 1978 when he was arrested in
Manhattans 26th Precinct. Following a short stint in the citys jail system,
Meneses headed south, where his skills as a burglar prompted law enforcement officials
there to begin deportation proceedings against him.
Yes. Meneses was deported to Colombia in 1980. No one is certain when, or how he
arrived back on U.S. soil, but he was back, burglarizing greater Miami in March of 1982.
After masterminding a series of other burglaries in the Sunshine State, Meneses headed
north to again test-out his luck in the Big Apple. It was at this point, law enforcement
officials said, that Meneses honed his skills as a master of disguise and escape.
He spent years fine-tuning a method of escaping jail time for criminal activity,
officials said. He collected names and Social Security numbers by the dozen pawning
them off on law enforcement agents who were unable to match his history to the aliases.
He bit-off the "pads" on his fingers, preventing a match to another name by
police who arrested him for his assorted crimes.
From 1979 to 1990, police in at least two states arrested Meneses over and over, for
breaking-in to residences and for assorted drug offenses. In all that time, neither the
court system or the police recognized Meneses under the guise of his aliases.
Meneses was arrested by police in Elmhurst in February 1990. Convicted of a felony drug
charge, he was sentenced in June 1992 to seven years at the Ulster County Correctional
Twenty months later, Meneses walked away from a Work Program for inmates at the prison,
and he headed straight for Queens.
Seven months after his escape, Meneses was back behind bars in Queens, when he was
caught and identified in a residential burglary. That was October 1994. He has since been
arrested and charged in at least seven burglaries. Each time, he gave cops an alias. Each
time, he duped court officials and judges who presided at his cases. And each time he
walked away from the charges under an assumed name, using a phony Social Security number
and a fabricated date of birth.
This is the kind of stuff crime novelists love to get their hands on. The perfect crime
But as luck would have it, Meneses luck began to run out in May 1997 when he was
arrested by a detective in Elmhurst who had a hunch that he was no stranger to the
criminal justice system.
Calling himself Bernardo Ospina, Meneses told Det. Michael Carrano that the burglary he
was arrested for was his first crime. Carrano ran Ospina for prior arrests, but the system
came up blank. He was released by the court system, but he stuck in Carranos gut
the detective refused to give up on his search for Meneses true identify and
For the next eight months, Carrano and his partner Det. Phillip Cammarata ran regular
background checks on the man who gave his name as Bernardo Ospina. The inquiries all came
back the same no record. Carrano felt sure that Meneses was out on the street
making his living by breaking and entering. It was a hunch the detective couldnt
shake. A hunch that paid off on April 7 the day Meneses luck ran out.
Meneses was arrested by police at the 108th Precinct in Long Island City not once
but twice during January 1998. Both times he eluded jail time by giving cops
an alias foiling their attempts to link him to prior criminal activity.
He was locked up by the Long Island City cops in March 1998 and again, he outwitted the
Detectives at the 108th Squad transmitted a "Have Arrested" message to cops
citywide, hoping someone, somewhere, might recognize the suspect.
Carrano and Cammarata reviewed the messages regularly and playing their hunch they
obtained photos of the suspect who was arrested in the 108th Precinct.
The detectives hit the jackpot when they received the photos and found that the name
may have changed, but the face was unmistakably the same as their man Meneses.
Unfortunately, the man in the photos who called himself Marin Gonzalo was sent through
the system, arraigned and released before Carrano and Cammarata were able to confer
with police and Corrections Department supervisors. He had to be processed and sentenced
or released within 48 hours after his arrest the system requires it.
And the system always worked for Meneses.
Error Of His Demise
But he made a mistake on April 7 a big mistake that cost him his freedom.
Thats when he was arrested by two cops on regular patrol out of the 110th Precinct.
Alberio Meneses in calling the Queens House of Detention home
these days, having finally lost his cover.
Tribune Photos By Liz Goff
Police Officers Michael Sheeran and Thomas Dugan spotted something "out of
place" at a residence on 97th Street in Elmhurst at about 3 p.m. on April 7. The cops
entered the residence, where they found a stunned Meneses, surrounded by loot he intended
to lift in this, his latest heist.
Meneses was arrested and taken to the 110th Precinct for processing, which includes
routine debriefing by precinct detectives. His fate was sealed when he was walked into the
110th Squad, where he found himself face-to-face with his nemesis, Mike Carrano.
Playing the odds, Meneses did his best to try to convince Carrano and Cammarata that
this was his first offense. But Carrano wouldnt have it he recognized the
"perp" as the same man he had arrested in May 1997 under the name Bernardo
The intricate puzzle Meneses had developed to dupe the system began to crumble around
Carrano and Cammarata linked Meneses to 11 NYSID (Police Arrest) numbers and combined
them all into one number the first one Meneses was issued following his 1978 arrest
Digging deeper, the detectives revealed Meneses history as an absconder from the
Ulster County Correctional Facility.
They discovered that he was wanted by the FBI, and that he had nine outstanding
warrants, including one for escape.
The detectives also linked Meneses to at least seven burglaries between October 1994
and May 1998, crimes he was arrested for and convicted of. But he never spent a second in
jail for the crimes, having convinced police and prosecutors that each was his first
Meneses victimized the system for almost 20 years. Now, suddenly, it was time to pay
According to a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Meneses
or whoever he is has been holed-up at the Queens House of Detention since April 8.
He is being held on $50,000 bail (new) and an additional $15,000 a tidy sum
determined by the judge at his arraignment, meant to "cover" all of his
outstanding warrants, said DA spokesperson Mary De Bourbon.
He remains at the Mens House on Queens Boulevard in lieu of $65,000 bail, De
The sytem has finally caught up with Alberio Meneses or whoever he is.
De Bourbon praised Carrano and Cammarata for achieving justice when the cause was
muddled by deceit, fraud and flim-flam.
The detectives deserve a great deal of credit, De Bourbon said, for their determination
Meneses can no longer dupe the system. Thanks to the two detectives the system now
knows who he is and what he has done.
But how did it happen? Could police or prosecutors have identified Meneses long ago,
acting with the same determination as Mike Carrano and Phil Cammarata?
Or was he simply too quick, too crafty for law enforcement to catch up with him?
How many others are out there, pillaging our property and never being punished?