Criminal arrested for the 99th time

"When he is free, society is at risk."

By Sophia Chang

NASSAU, N.Y. — The 99th time may be the charm for law enforcement officials hoping to keep Cedric McCants in jail.

McCants, 52, of 113 Willow Ave. in Hempstead, was arraigned yesterday on charges of stealing laptops and computer equipment from two offices in the Garden City area in October, Nassau police said.

The arrest caps off a staggering record: McCants has been arrested 98 times before and convicted 78 times on a total of 197 charges, including seven violent felonies, police said.

"When he is free, society is at risk," said Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey at a news conference yesterday, calling McCants a "one-man walking crime wave."

Mulvey added that he hopes McCants, if convicted of the burglary charges, will be sentenced up to 25 years in prison as a persistent offender.

"We look forward to holding this defendant accountable. I'm going to push hard for significant upstate prison time for this career criminal," said District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a statement. "It's clear from his record that he simply can't be trusted unless he's behind bars."

McCants has served 15 prison terms, with the longest sentence from 2001 to 2005, police said. Because of good behavior in prison, he was always paroled out, said Det. Lt. Raymond Cote.

McCants' first arrest came when he was 16, on charges of armed robbery in New York City, Cote said. Since then, he has been arrested on charges ranging from assault to larceny to robbery, crimes he committed to support a past substance abuse addiction, Cote said.

McCants has used more than 40 aliases, 35 different home addresses and seven different dates of birth, according to police. For unknown reasons he was admitted to Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola yesterday and was arraigned bedside, where he was ordered held on $400,000 bond or $200,000 cash, according to Rice's office. Family members could not be reached for comment.

"Obviously, no sentence can be long enough for Mr. McCants," Cote said.

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