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Student accused of robbing 80-year-old

QUINCY — A one-time high school athlete and academic standout from Cohasset is ­accused of repeatedly breaking into the home of an 80-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease, stealing cash and her ATM card while the woman was at home alone.

Paul J. McCaw, a 22-year-old Hobart and William Smith Colleges student, is taking time off from school to deal with drug addiction, his attorney said, and is facing charges in the burglaries.

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According to prosecutors and court records, McCaw ­allegedly sneaked into the ­elderly woman’s waterfront home in Cohasset four times from Jan. 7 to Jan. 26. On one occasion, McCaw left with nothing, but in later burglaries, he allegedly took $30, and then $40 and the debit card, according to prosecutors.

With the debit card, McCaw allegedly tried to withdraw hundreds of dollars from her account, using ATMs. Over the course of almost an hour on the night of Jan. 14, McCaw allegedly tried 54 times at a Bank of America cash machine on Chief Justice Cushing Highway, but never entered the correct PIN.

The victim lives alone, and apparently was inside each time McCaw entered, according to court records. “She was basically extremely vulnerable,” said Laura Martin, assistant Norfolk district attorney, during McCaw’s arraignment in Quincy District Court Monday.

William Sullivan, McCaw’s private attorney, pleaded not guilty on his client’s behalf.

Sullivan said McCaw, a former Cohasset High School football and lacrosse player, walked into his Quincy law office prior to his arrest, after learning of the developing investigation. McCaw then entered a drug treatment program at Massachusetts General Hospital to fight an oxycodone addiction, Sullivan said.

The victim lives alone, and apparently was inside each time the accused entered, according to court records.

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McCaw, dressed in a charcoal suit with a light-blue dress shirt, was charged Monday with four counts of unarmed burglary and two counts each of attempting to commit a crime and larceny.

McCaw’s sister sat in the front row of the courtroom and sobbed during the arraignment. Later, she presented the court with the $1,500 cash bail to get her brother released. The two left the courthouse without commenting. McCaw is due back in court on March 25 for a probable cause hearing.

On the day of the last burglary, Jan. 26, the victim’s son was at the home and noticed someone running up the driveway toward the house. ­Moments later, the son saw the person run out the front door, fall, and drop the victim’s purse. The suspect fled without the purse, and the son called police, according to a police report contained in court records.

Police noticed that shoe imprints left in the newly fallen snow in the driveway matched imprints in the driveway of one of the victim’s neighbors. The footprints belonged to McCaw, according to prosecutors.

The victim’s neighbor, Sam DeGiacomo, who lives with his parents, allegedly helped ­McCaw with the burglaries and later cooperated with authorities, telling them that McCaw broke into the house four times.

DeGiacomo said he waited outside each time McCaw went into the house. DeGiacomo ­allegedly drove McCaw to ATMs so that McCaw could attempt to withdraw money from the victim’s account. The cash ­machines snapped pictures of both suspects, according to the police report. For cooperating with authorities, DeGiacomo apparently will face lighter punishment.

Police arrested McCaw on Friday. The next day, while in lockup at the Cohasset Police Department, he had a question for a police officer, according to court records. “Why am I in jail and Sam isn’t,” McCaw allegedly asked an officer.

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.
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