Last ‘hate-crime ring’ member sentenced

Frank Chrysler

ALBANY COUNTY — Frank Chrysler — a member of what the district attorney’s office termed “a hate-crime ring” — was sentenced on Friday to six to 12 years in state prison.

Chrysler, 49, of Watervliet, was sentenced by Judge Roger D. McDonough in Albany County Supreme Court. He had pleaded guilty, on Nov. 6, to third-degree grand larceny as a hate crime, a Class C felony.

Events unfolded this way, according to a release from the Albany County District Attorney’s Office:

Chrysler selected a victim due to her age — “a person who was known to him, who suffers from a decreased mental state” — and on Oct. 10, 2014 took her twice to the First Niagara Bank on New Loudon Road in Latham and had her withdraw $5,000 each time. He then took her $10,000 without permission. The transactions are recorded on video.

Between February and November 2014, Chrysler, along with co-conspirators Henry Hicks, John Waterson, Susan Barr, Brian Barr, John Risto, and Jessica Paradiso, worked under false pretenses for victims in their homes, the release says. The group targeted elderly victims throughout Albany County in the towns of Bethlehem and Colonie, and in the city of Albany. The estimated theft from all victims was in excess of $40,000.

Janie Frank, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, told The Enterprise at the time of the arrests in May 2015 that the hate-crime charges arose because elderly victims were specifically targeted. The state penal code defines “hate crimes” as those in which “victims are intentionally selected, in whole or in part, because of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.”

The ring members, Frank said, have “been going to the homes of elderly, asking to do housework for them … They get paid to do the housework, and this can be anywhere from like sealcoating a driveway to fixing a computer. And they get paid to do this, and then they either don’t do it or they don’t complete the work. And then they just take the money.”

On the reason for the hate-crime charges, Frank said, “Because this ring was purposely going after elderly people, it does qualify as a hate crime, because it was due to their age that this crime was committed.”

According to New York State law on hate crimes, the seriousness of the crimes is compounded by the element of hate. These crimes, the law states, “inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society. Crimes motivated by invidious hatred toward particular groups not only harm individual victims but send a powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the group to which the victim belongs.”

Frank said that hate-crime charges raise the level of a felony by one category. So third-degree grand larceny that would normally be a Class D felony, when charged as a hate crime, becomes a Class C felony.

“It does become a more serious class of felony,” she said. Asked if sentencing would be more severe, Frank said, “The consequences could be significantly higher.”

Chrysler is the last of the co-defendants to be sentenced. He was also ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution to the victims.

Street Crimes Unit Bureau Chief Jessica Blain-Lewis prosecuted this case.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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