Three major Ridgefield cases in court this week
DANBURY — Defendants in three major crimes alleged to have taken place in Ridgefield were scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Danbury this week.
The major cases include the nearly three-year-old shooting case involving a homeowner who police say drew his gun on a group of teens trying to steal his SUV; a local mechanic accused of building assault weapons, silencers and a hand grenade in his basement; and a former animal rescue worker who allegedly embezzled at least $60,000 over the course of several years.
Range Rover shooting
A pizza shop owner is facing multiple weapons and drug charges after a shooting at his Ridgefield home nearly three years ago left a 15-year-old girl with a bullet lodged near her spine.
Mauro Tropeano, 35, was charged with second-degree assault, a felony, as well as illegal discharge of a firearm, and interfering with an officer in August 2017.
In June 2017, Ridgefield police were called to Tropeano’s Hulda Lane home after multiple 911 callers said they heard gunshots and yelling.
The 15-year-old girl told police she had gone to the neighborhood to steal cars with a group of friends from Waterbury, according to the warrant for Tropeano’s arrest.
They attempted to steal a Range Rover parked in Tropeano’s driveway, but were unable to put the car in reverse. When Tropeano came out of the house, the group fled in their stolen Kia.
The girl told police Tropeano fired on the car, and one of the bullets passed through the back of the car and struck her in the back. Doctors were unable to remove the bullet because it lodged near the girl’s spine.
Tropeano initially denied firing his gun that night, and would not allow police to test his hands for gunpowder residue.
He was also charged with sale of certain illegal drugs after police raided his home and found marijuana, various steroids, handguns, and thousands of dollars of cash stuffed in a bucket.
Tropeano was scheduled to Tuesday appear in state Superior Court in Danbury.
Last March, police went to a Tackora Trail home for a call about a domestic dispute. There they found more than a dozen unregistered assault weapons, silencers, and a homemade hand grenade after the homeowner was told he would have to surrender his guns to police.
Mark Albin was charged with manufacturing an illegal bomb, and possession of a silencer.
The 50-year-old mechanic was also charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon and possession of a large-capacity magazine.
While police were seizing weapons from the basement they came across a “home made explosive consisting of a M67 grenade body filled with black powder, and fitted with a fusing system,” according to the affidavit for Albin’s arrest.
Albin told police he was “prepping” and never intended to use any of the weapons he built in his home, the affidavit said. He said he never registered any of the weapons because of how long it takes to do so, and told police he never thought there would be an issue with police because the weapons never left his house.
Albin was scheduled to appear Wednesday in state Superior Court in Danbury.A new hearing has been scheduled for March 18.
Animal shelter embezzlement
When a worker at an animal sanctuary abruptly quit a year ago, the sanctuary’s owners alleged she took a bit more than her last paycheck.
Amparo Sandoval was charged with first-degree larceny last July, after police say she siphoned off more than $60,000 from the sanctuary through fraudulant credit card purchases.
The 55-year-old Danbury woman used the money to purchase dresses through her Amazon account, items from Lowe’s in Danbury, and for servicing her Jeep Wrangler, according to the warrant for her arrest.
The Sanctuary’s owner, Morten Binn, said the actual figure is closer to $200,000, based on a forensic accounting team who reviewed the nonprofit’s finances after he realized the money was missing.
The missing funds came to light after Sandoval abruptly quit in November 2018 and was overpaid in her paycheck for the month, according to the warrant.
That led the owners to scrutinize the bank and credit card accounts she had access to, Binn said.
Sandoval pleaded not guilty in state Superior Court in Danbury and was released on bond.
Sandoval appeared Monday in court. Her pre-trial hearing was continued to March 18.