Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suspect in Burglary Spree Backs out of Plea Deal

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suspect in Burglary Spree Backs out of Plea Deal

Article excerpt

A Teaneck man charged with going on a burglary spree while on parole for another burglary conviction and wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet was scheduled for a June 4 trial on Thursday after he reneged on having accepted a plea offer.

Melvin Collins, 45, had pleaded guilty two months ago in state Superior Court in Hackensack, admitting that he took part in a series of break-ins throughout Bergen County and led police on two high-speed chases.

He agreed to receive a sentence of a maximum of 16 years in prison with the possibility that he could ask for a lesser term during sentencing.

On the day of his sentencing on Thursday, however, Collins took back his plea and decided to go to trial after learning that the judge -- having reviewed his criminal past -- wasn't going to give him anything less than the maximum term, said defense attorney Gerald Saluti.

Collins will now go to a series of trials on three separate indictments and, if convicted, would face what could add up to a life term behind bars.

Collins was arrested in October 2009 and charged with a series of burglaries that authorities said he committed while he was on parole for another burglary. He was released on bail less than a month later but ordered to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet.

He was back in business by June 2010, authorities said, breaking into homes in Teaneck, Englewood, Leonia, Rochelle Park and Palisades Park over the next few months.

When police finally tracked him down, he was walking to his home in Teaneck carrying a floor safe, prosecutors said. When police confronted him in his home, he bolted through a back door, cut off his ankle bracelet and escaped, prosecutors said.

He then led police on two separate high-speed chases, in Ridgefield Park on Nov. 8, 2010, and in Hackensack the next day, they said. Collins made good his escape, fled the state and was arrested months later in North Carolina, prosecutors said. …

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