BY TRONE DOWD
Academy Award-winning singer and songwriter John Legend testified in a Queens County Criminal Court trial on Tuesday afternoon.
Legend, whose real name is John Stephens, was the victim in the alleged crime. According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Legend flew into Terminal 4 of John F. Kennedy International Airport from Paris on March 23, 2017. Upon arrival, the 39-year-old singer grabbed his luggage and met with his driver, who drove him and several members of his travel team to a hotel in the Meatpacking District. Once at the hotel, it was discovered that one of the bags, a $3,000 black Louis Vuitton suitcase, was missing.
“I first called my driver to ask if the carry-on was left behind,” he told attorney Michelle Witten. “I then called my assistant, Christine Chen, to try to figure out what happened to the carry-on bag.”
Chen called the Port Authority police as well as Delta Airlines. The defendant, 63-year-old Agustin Hilario, of Corona, was later arrested in the crime after Port Authority Police used surveillance footage to identify a suspect. Hilario allegedly admitted to picking up the bag, claiming that it was left unattended and he planned to drop it off at the hotel’s lost and found. Police were able to get the bag back to Legend the following day as he flew back to Paris from JFK.
Legend testified that the bag in question is one he frequently uses as a carry-on during his travels throughout the year. On the night of the crime, the bag contained Legend’s belongings, including several pairs of cufflinks, workout clothes, sunglasses and undergarments. He specified that one item in particular, a pair of $30,000 Cartier brand panther-head cufflinks, was a sentimental anniversary gift from his spouse—model Chrissy Teigen.
“It was a very special gift that my wife spent a lot of time looking for and was proud to give them to me,” Legend said. “It meant a lot to her, and it meant a lot to me that she went through that to gift them to me.”
The defendant chose not to speak during his court appearance, but previously told Port Authority police that he was aware of his culpability.
“I know I should not have taken it,” he said. “I made a mistake.”
Hilario has been charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property and third-degree attempted grand larceny. If convicted, he faces seven years in prison. The case is being overseen by Judge Ira Margulis.