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Suspects who commit crimes during COVID-19 crises face enhanced charges

HOUSTON – Like thousands of other small business owners, the last three weeks have been tough for Alana Kundu and her husband Amlan.

They’ve had to layoff employees and switch to serving take-out orders only at their Montrose restaurant, Ambrosia.

But things got tougher for the restaurant owners Sunday night after a man broke into the restaurant and trashed it while looking for money.

“We are fighting for survival,” Alana Kundu said. “It’s the stress on top of everything that we were already stressed about to begin with so now we got a whole other mess of worries.”

“It’s just added stress, you know. Nobody wants to deal with this right now,” Amlan said.

According to prosecutors, the burglar, identified as 61-year-old David Quigley, is a repeat offender with arrests in eight states for crimes like burglary, sexual abuse of a child and drug possession.

Officials said security video shows Quigley tearing a hole in the ceiling of Ambrosia to get inside, then vandalizing the bar, cash register, electronic sales and the security systems while looking for money.

His timing couldn’t have been worse. While Texas is currently under a disaster declaration due to the coronavirus health crisis, the charge against Quigley will be enhanced.

According to prosecutors, he’s charged with burglary of a building, which is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in prison, but because he did it during a disaster declaration, in this case, he’s going be punished a third degree felony, up to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors said because of Quigley’s long and detailed criminal history, he’s going to be looking at up to life in prison for this crime.

Assistant District Attorney Sean Teare said the DA’s office is looking at all new arrests to see if they warrant enhanced charges, just as they did during and after Hurricane Harvey. Now as then, doing the crime and can get you a lot more time.

As for the Kundus, their restaurant remains open Thursday through Saturday for take-out only as they try to hand onto their dream.