Four arrested by Franklin police in multi-state burglary ring targeting South Asian homes

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FRANKLIN — Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Massachusetts State Police Colonel John Mawn Jr. announced today the arrest of four Rhode Island men charged with executing a large-scale burglary ring that hit 43 homes across 25 towns.

Jovan Lemon, 29, of Providence, Paul Lemon, 30, of Warwick, Steven Berdugo, 28, of Providence, and Paul Miller, 46 of Woonsocket, were indicted by a Middlesex Grand Jury on April 18 for 95 counts of unarmed burglary and breaking and entering.

The string of burglaries, which began on July 21, 2018, and continued until March 30, targeted homes primarily owned by individuals of Indian or South Asian descent, a choice made under the belief that these households held valuable jewelry and heirlooms.

The defendants, who are believed to be linked to a violent Providence-based gang, allegedly stole over $4 million in property, including diamond jewelry, gold items, and large sums of cash.

In some instances, the burglars removed heavy safes containing the valuables from the homes.

District Attorney Ryan underscored the sophistication of the criminals, noting their careful selection of victims, planning of the heists, and measures taken to avoid detection such as using Wi-Fi jammers.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Cyr of the Massachusetts State Police Division of Homeland Security emphasized the violation of home sanctity and the emotional toll on victims, vowing that such actions would not be tolerated.

The arrests followed a nine-month investigation by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit, and the Massachusetts State Police Division of Homeland Security, with support from the Rhode Island State Police and local departments in both states.

The MACrimeNet program, operated by the MSP Fusion Center, played a crucial role in intelligence sharing among departments.

The defendants were apprehended by members of the United States Marshals Service/Rhode Island State Police Task Force and are currently presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Klunder is prosecuting the case.

This ongoing investigation involves collaboration with multiple police departments across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

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