Two loaded handguns, their corresponding permits and ammunition, a police shield and police credentials were stolen from the unlocked vehicle of former Saugerties police chief Gregory M. Hulbert on Dec. 21 as part of a two-day spree of thefts from cars, town police said.
After a 48-hour effort by local law enforcement, the guns were found — along with a total 163 bags of heroin, leading to three arrests.
“It was a collaborative effort of Saugerties police, Ulster County sheriff’s office, [local ant-drugs and gangs task force] URGENT, [the state police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team], the media and the community,” said town police Chief Joseph Sinagra on Tuesday, Dec. 26. “Information was brought forward about the guns to law enforcement, and a multi-disciplinary effort to locate them. When agencies collaborate, justice prevails.”
Members of URGENT, CNET and sheriff’s deputies conducted an undercover buy operation in the village, which led to the recovery of the guns and the first 120 bags of heroin, police said. Willie Rodriguez, 30, and Gina Julian, 24, both of Kingston, were pulled over at the intersection of Dawes Street and Market Street. The loaded .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun from Hulbert was found on Rodriguez’s person, while the heroin was found on Julian, police said.
Skylar “Cuddy” Eichert of Saugerties, 27, was taken into custody in conjunction with the stolen guns at his home on 79 Livingston St., police said. After detectives and investigators obtained a search warrant for the residence, an additional 43 bags of heroin were recovered. According to Sinagra, local law enforcement had been suspicious of the residence due to heavy traffic in and out over the past few months.
After questioning the suspects, police recovered the stolen police shield and identification in a trash can close to the site of the theft from the car.
All three parties were charged with the felony of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, or intent to sell. Rodriguez accrued the additional felony charges of second-degree and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property, and the misdemeanors of seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance and endangering the welfare of a child. Eichert was additionally charged with felony charges of second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm. Julian was charged with misdemeanors of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and endangering the welfare of a child.
“It’s individuals walking through neighborhoods checking if car doors are unlocked,” said Sinagra, who added that this was not the first gun stolen from an unlocked car during his stint as police chief. “No matter how safe you feel, there are always individuals who will take advantage of those who trust society. We need to lock our vehicles and don’t leave valuables, particularly firearms, unattended.”
The recovered guns are currently in the possession of the Ulster County Pistol Bureau. Whether they are returned to Hulbert will be up to the judge that issued him his pistol permit, said Sinagra.
“Any time that somebody leaves guns in a vehicle, we notify the judge that issued the pistol permit and request a review,” said Sinagra. “The county has the purview of suspending that person’s firearm privileges, or even to terminate them. As responsible gun owners, we don’t leave any guns — loaded or unloaded — in vehicles.”