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Handyman charged after allegedly stealing from homes where he was working

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MASSENA - A Massena handyman is facing a variety of charges after allegedly stealing money, checks, a debit card and a “Twilight” DVD from homes where he was working.

Michael K. Kocsis, 48, of 147 E. East Orvis St., was charged with one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, one count of fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and six counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument when he was arrested by village police on Sunday.

In statements to police the alleged victims both detailed what was stolen from them.

Koren Smith, another resident of East Orvis Street said her home was broken into on Dec. 27, 2011 with money, two checks and a “Twilight” DVD stolen.

“Mike Kocsis has been doing repair jobs inside my apartment since November 2011, prior to me realizing I had stuff missing,” she said.

As for what was missing, Ms. Smith said both American and Canadian cash was stolen.

“The amount of cash taken was about $135 of Canadian and $93 in American,” she said, adding she did not notice the checks, which were eventually cashed without her permission, were missing until a couple days later.

“Two checks were cashed at Seacomm in Massena. They were made out to cash. One was for $135 and the other was made out for $190,” she said. “My name was signed to these checks, but I did not sign them. The name signed on the back of the checks was Bobbie Jo French.”

In her statement to police Ms. French said she cashed the checks because Mr. Kocsis told her he did not have a bank account, but did not know they were stolen.

“One was made out to cash for $135 for labor and the other was made out to cash for $190 for materials. I signed my name to the back of the checks and received the $325 from the teller,” she said. “I gave him the money. I didn’t know either of the checks were stolen.”

The second alleged victim, Dong G. Hoang, was another resident of East Orvis Street who had also hired Mr. Kocsis to work inside his home.

“On Nov. 21, 2011 I reported a burglary at my home to the Massena police department. I was missing my wife Rigui Lin’s purse that contained about $2,000 cash. Michael Kocsis was working in my house at the time repairing things inside,” he said in his statement to police on Oct. 24.

Mr. Hoang said his debit card was also stolen, but that wasn’t something he realized until later.

“I went to Sears in the St. Lawrence Centre mall to use my SeaComm debit card and Sears told me I did not have any money on the debit card,” he said. “Sears allowed me to review a security tape and I saw Michael Kocsis using my debit card.”

After that Mr. Hoang said he confronted Mr. Kocsis, who allegedly admitted that he stole the purse and debit card.

“I asked Michael Kocsis about this and Michael admitted to stealing my Seacomm debit card and Michael admitted to taking $2,000 from me a year ago and the key to my house,” Mr. Hoang said. “Michael told me he stole this money and debit card because of his drug problem. Michael Kocsis said he would pay me back.”

Mr. Hoang said Kocsis did pay him back $1,000, while promising to pay the rest back in installments that never came. Mr. Hoang also said that wouldn’t be the first time Kocsis told him that he would pay him back for money he had stolen from him.

“About a month ago someone from Spanky’s called me and asked me about some checks. I went to Spanky’s and someone at Spanky’s showed me a video of a man that signed the check and it is a man that lives with Michael Kocsis,” he said, adding, “I know I am missing several checks on my First Niagara checking account.”

Mr. Hoang said he was missing 11 checks, 10 of which had been cashed without his permission.

“A few weeks ago Michael told me he took these First Niagara checks because of his drug problem and he would pay me back. I have not received any money from Michael Kocsis for stealing these checks,” he said, estimating that when the value of each of the stolen checks is combined that totals nearly $4,000.

“I now have about $3,760 that has been used from my First Niagara checkbook that I did not authorize,” he said.

Following his arraignment before Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson on Tuesday, Kocsis was sent to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility, where he is being held without bail.

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