Sean Evans, 23, of South Mesier Avenue, Wappinger Falls, and two female acquaintances, Kristin Carlson, 21, of Deer Crossing Drive, Fishkill, and Nissa Simonis, 18, of Moccasin View Road, Wappinger Falls, were arrested after weekend visitors to the monastery saw three people stealing from the donation boxes, police said. The visitors informed Chuang Yen staff, who called the police.
Town police say they arrived about 2 p.m. April 19 to find Evans in an apparent drug-induced state and the two women gone. He initially gave police a false name before admitting his identity, they said.
Evans is due in Town Court on May 6 to answer charges of petty larceny, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, possession of a hypodermic needle, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, sixth-degree conspiracy, appearing in public while under the influence of narcotics, criminal impersonation, all misdemeanors, and disorderly conduct, a violation.
A follow-up investigation led police to Carlson and Simonis, who were arrested Saturday and released without bail. They are each facing charges of petty larceny and sixth-degree conspiracy. Both are due in Town Court at 5 p.m. June 5.
Lt. Alex DiVernieri said police weren't sure of the amount taken from the boxes but that it was less than $1,000. The charity boxes at the monastery have been hit before, once during a string of thefts that occurred in late 2001 and again in early 2002.
A woman who answered the telephone yesterday at the monastery referred questions to police.
Set on a hill off Route 301 near the Taconic State Parkway, the monastery has become a spiritual haven for Buddhists from the Lower Hudson Valley and beyond who come for classes, meditation and prayer.
Its Great Buddha Hall contains a 34-foot tall marble statue of Buddha, said to be the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. The Dalai Lama, during his visit to Kent, dedicated the Great Buddha Hall in 1997.