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Sex, drugs and guns leave Jersey brothers convicted on 50 counts of burglary

Alaska Dispatch

Jeffrey Indellicati and Ben Cross, the two brothers from New Jersey who were involved in a three-week-long adventure in 2010 involving $50,000 in stolen cash and sex- and drug-fueled escapades from Puerto Rico to Alaska, were convicted of 50 counts of burglary each for the ransacking of more than a dozen cabins around Skwentna, the The Frontiersman reports.

The convictions were handed down Wednesday. Assistant District Attorney Michael Perry referenced a pile of evidence, most significantly a dozen rifles and shotguns that were seized from the cabin where the brothers were staying on the afternoon in April 2010 when they were apprehended by police. The guns are evidence “you can’t get around,” Perry argued.

Defense attorneys Michael Horowitz and Rex Butler argued their clients could not have stolen all of the goods by hand, as Alaska's spring weather made the area muddy and difficult to traverse. “These two young men by hand, on foot, carried three truckloads of stuff over 25 square miles?” Horowitz countered, according to The Frontiersman.

The defense theorized that another burglar or burglars were working in the area, and that the Jersey brothers stumbled upon the cache of weapons. “Did these young men have possession of stolen property? You can say ‘yes’ beyond a reasonable doubt. But can you say yes beyond a reasonable doubt that they took it?” Butler asked the jury.

In the end, a Palmer jury convicted the brothers of over 50 counts of burglary, while acquitting the brothers on one theft count each.

Jersey brothers detail adventure in jailhouse interview

In a 2010 jailhouse interview, the brothers sat down with then-Alaska Dispatch reporter Josh Saul and told him the story of their adventure, which began in New Jersey and ended three weeks later in Skwentna, about 65 miles northwest of Alaska's largest city of Anchorage. The following includes excerpts from Saul's interview. (By the way, Saul is now a reporter at The New York Post.)

On April 9, 2010, a safe went missing from the brothers' employer in Trenton, N.J. The safe was found busted wide open in a wildlife preserve, emptied of $50,000 and $2.3 million in certificates of deposit.

When the police started calling to talk about the cracked safe, the brothers blew out of town. The stolen cash made travel easy. They landed in Puerto Rico, where they partied hard through cities like San Juan and Mayaguez, blowing thousands of dollars on prostitutes, cocaine and marijuana.

The pair came to Alaska "to get away," Ben told Alaska Dispatch in 2010. He figured Alaska had far fewer cops per square mile than New Jersey or Texas, so they flew to Anchorage and checked into the Arctic Inn Motel near the airport. They bought a van, a full-size blue Ford from the 1980s, and they kept up their strip club habit, though they toned down the high-roller act.

They spent $5,000 at an outdoor store in Anchorage, buying backpacks and everything else they thought they'd need out in the woods -- so much gear they tipped the cleaning lady $50 to clear all the boxes out of their Motel room.

The brothers also started asking around about anybody who might have a remote cabin for rent. Ben told Alaska Dispatch that they found an old guy named Buzz who agreed to rent them his cabin in Skwentna: $1,500 for 45 days. So in late April the brothers paid Rust's Flying Service to take them and Buzz out to Skwentna. After they landed on the lake in front of the cabin, Buzz got them settled in and then flew back to Anchorage with the pilot, leaving Ben and Jeff alone in the roadless and remote Alaska backcountry.

What followed was the ransacking and destruction of up to 25 cabins.

Anchorage resident John Witte said his cabin suffered $10,000 to $15,000 in damage -- but the spree had an impact beyond physical destruction. The brothers terrorized remote Skwentna, he said; for the days they were running wild, the community huddled together in their cabins, afraid.

Their rampage came to an end in an hour-long standoff after police tracked them down.

"It was all worth it," Ben told Alaska Dispatch at the time. "It was worth 50 years of my life."

Check out Josh Saul's profile of the brothers and read more about their convictions at The Frontiersman.