An arrest warrant was signed for Benjamin DePaolis of New Britain in September. He was wanted for allegedly violating his probation on a charge that seemed minor next to his conviction in 2006 as an accomplice to armed robbery.
On Saturday, DePaolis was located. He allegedly was a passenger in a 64-year-old woman’s stolen car. His father was driving, said. And right behind them were two sons of the victim, doggedly tracking the stolen car into West Hartford.
The unusual sequence of events began in Newington, where the car was reported stolen Friday, moved around Hartford and ended at a with DePaolis, 31, facing a sleeve of charges, including third-degree larceny in connection with the stolen car, police said.
His father, Dean DePaolis, 50, also of New Britain, and Michelle Lanier, 27, who was described as homeless, were also taken into custody about 11 p.m. Saturday and each faced multiple charges, including third-degree burglary, police said.
All three suspects waived their rights and delivered ricocheting accounts to police.
Lanier told police that she and Benjamin DePaolis were picked up earlier Saturday in a car that Dean DePaolis told them he stole Friday night from a Sam’s Club on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington.
Lanier told police they traveled to Capitol Avenue in Hartford and bought five bags of heroin. After two apparent shoplifting stops, the stolen car, a 1992 white Honda Civic, was spotted around Park Terrace and Hamilton Street by the victim’s 40-year-old son, a Hartford man who happened to be driving in the area, police said.
The location was only a two-minute walk from 459 Zion St., where Benjamin DePaolis took part in an armed robbery involving a gun in April 2005, according to the disposition of his case in Hartford Superior Court.
When the first son lost track of his mother’s car, he called an older brother, who also lives in the area, police said. The older brother started driving around and also eyeballed the suspects traveling in his mother’s car, now on Hillside Avenue, and called Hartford police.
West Hartford officers were moving into position as the older brother tailed the suspects down Hollywood and west on New Britain Avenue until officers surrounded the car in the CVS parking lot, police said.
Dean DePaolis was in the driver’s seat, police said. Lanier bolted out of the CVS and was taken into custody with Benjamin DePaolis about a block away on Newington Road.
The younger brother was next to arrive and helped police ID the suspects.
In his statement, Dean DePaolis said he was homeless and that he bought the car from another homeless man in New Britain for $50. He said he was unaware the car was stolen at the time of the purchase, police said. He allegedly had five car keys on a key ring – three for Hondas.
Benjamin DePaolis acknowledged that his father was driving a maroon Honda recently but told police he never suspected the white Honda was stolen and denied drugs were involved. He said they were only driving to the store, where police suspected Lanier was trying to redeem an allegedly stolen $16 bottle of vitamins and a $13.50 skin care product.
Benjamin DePaolis, who lives with his father at 32 Park Place in New Britain, was held on $165,500 total bail. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to accessory to first-degree robbery with a firearm and was ordered to serve four years of a 10-year jail sentence, according to court records.
Dean Paolis, who has two sealed cases pending in Hartford Superior Court, was held on $15,000 bail.
Lanier, who also was charged with three counts of failure to appear in court, sixth-degree larceny and possession of drug paraphernalia, was held on a total bond of $18,000.