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Fil-Am who stole from US children's cancer foundation expected to be released early


Rene Ballenas is currently serving one year at Rikers Island after he pleaded guilty on March 5 to two counts of second degree grand larceny. His lawyer told The FilAm he could be out in eight months on good behavior. From the courtroom, Ballenas was promptly taken to the Eric M. Taylor Center at 10-10 Hazen Street in East Elmhurst. The EMTC is one of the 10 jails comprising the Rikers Island complex. It is described as a facility for male adults and adolescents. “He accepted his responsibility and hopes to move forward with his life when he gets out,” his lawyer Oscar Michelen told The FilAm. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged Ballenas – founder of the Team United Maharlika Foundation — with “taking more than $7,000 worth of valuables from the Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation offices on East 38th Street.” The criminal complaint states that on September 1, 2012, Ballenas “knowingly entered and remained unlawfully in a dwelling with intent to commit a crime therein; the defendant stole property and the value of the property exceeded three thousand dollars.” The complaint further quotes from a witness who works for the foundation: “She observed the defendant on video surveillance, inside of the foundation’s office while the office was closed, and that the defendant did remove several items of clothing from the office; over the last several months many items from the office went missing, including but not limited to shirts, iPads, toner, wine bottles and a purse; the defendant did not have permission or authority to take, possess or remove said items or to be inside of said location; and the value of the above-mentioned items is $7,250.” The FilAm learned that Ballenas could have dragged the case out by insisting on his innocence. His lawyer said that by pleading guilty, Ballenas wanted to “go forward” with his life after serving time. “He will do eight out of the 12 months,” Michelen said. His projected release date is November 1st, according to the Rikers Island inmate directory. Days before he pleaded guilty, Ballenas and his wife Cynthia attended the March 1 Blue Party at the Astoria World Manor where the ladies came attired in blue gowns to raise awareness for colon cancer. The event was a fundraising gala for Alicia Almendral’s candidacy to the Mrs. International Pageant. Before that, Ballenas was at the JCI-Philippines induction of officers in a Manhattan restaurant. The couple continued to remain visible at parties even during the months that the case was being tried. “He dropped by to greet a few of his friends in the board and left quickly,” said a JCI source. - The FilAm
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