SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Chanel Lakatosz’s obituary says almost nothing of her 26-year life.
There’s no mention of her belonging to a family that preys on the elderly through daytime burglaries in places such as Atlantic City, Chicago, Philadelphia and other communities east of the Mississippi river. Or of her death in a Syracuse jail where she was held on a $3.75 million bond. There’s no mention of her being banned from Best Buy stores in Ohio. No one has left condolences on the funeral home’s website.
The brief account does capture her nomadic lifestyle. Born in Brooklyn, she lived her last eight years in a Chicago suburb and her funeral was at a Polish-speaking Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey. In New York and Illinois, she shared at least three addresses with Witold “Victor” Lakatosz, who is not the father listed in her obituary, but a man who for decades has called himself the “King of Gypsies.”
Witold Lakatosz is the leader of a band of travelers with Polish roots who are currently based in Chicago. The King, who is in his late 60s, is famous for showing up in towns and cities where Lakatoszs have been arrested. In August, four Lakatosz family members, including Chanel Lakatosz, were arrested in Syracuse on charges of taking half a million dollars in valuables from 15 homes in four Onondaga County towns.
While he has not surfaced publicly in the latest case, the King often visits communities where his family has been arrested. Driving nice cars and wearing lots of jewelry, he has handed out business cards claiming he is a United Nations representative of the Roma people, commonly referred to as “Gypsies.” “He’s essentially the bailsman. He shows up and tries to buy off the cops, buy off the prosecutor,” said Dennis Marlock, a former detective lieutenant of the Milwaukee Police Department.
News stories show that Witold Lakatosz has appeared to offer restitution in dozens of cases from Florida to Connecticut since at least the 1970s. The defendants routinely skip court appearances after their bail is paid. Read more »