Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced on Jan. 25 that a grand jury indictment charged 17 people for stealing more than $250,000 worth of copper wire belonging to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), selling it to a scrap yard and keeping the cash.
Christopher Callesano, 31, of Bethpage, is charged with two counts each of Conspiracy in the Fourth and Fifth Degrees, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, and Theft of Services. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
Michael Campbell, 33, of Bethpage, is charged with six counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree and Theft of Services. He faces up to one year in jail if convicted.
The DA noted that between Jan. 1, 2010 and Jan. 10, 2013, 17 people conspired to steal copper wire from the LIRR, 15 of which were employees of the railroad. The employees are part of Work Gangs 30, 31, and 33 in the railroads communications department where they maintain railroad yard signal systems and the two non-employees charged were acquaintances of work gang members.
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Inspector General’s investigation revealed that the defendants would steal new and used copper wire stored in railroad yards, often while on duty, and use LIRR trucks to transport the wire to their own personal vehicle, according to Rice. From there, they sold the stolen wire to Two Brother’s Scrap Metal in Farmingdale (for a total of $253,694), the DA noted. The defendants used the drivers’ license of a non-employee for the majority of sales to the scrap yard and divided proceeds among others on their work gang, Rice explained.
Defendants would steal brand-new spools of wire, cut sections off the spools, or steal discarded copper wire the LIRR was gathering to sell for scrap and the price the defendants received was based on whether the wire was new or used, if it contained lead and if the surrounding plastic coating had been stripped away, Rice noted.
Investigators from the MTA Inspector General’s Office, the MTA Police Department, Nassau County Police Department Electronics Squad and the District Attorney’s office collaborated to use high-tech investigation tools including GPS monitoring, pole cameras, license plate readers and other techniques to catch the thieves in the act.
“These defendants stole from everyone who rides on the Long Island Railroad when they stole public property and sold it to line their pockets,” Rice said. “What’s most outrageous is that they continued to commit these thefts even in the wake of catastrophic damage to the LIRR in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.”
Judge Angelo A. Delligatti arraigned the 17 alleged during the morning of Jan. 25.
Deputy Chief Christiana McSloy of the Public Corruption Bureau is prosecuting the case for the DA’s Office. The DA’s office thanks the MTA Inspector General’s Office, the MTA Police Department, and the Nassau County Police Department’s Electronics Squad for their assistance with the investigation.
“We will prosecute these crimes aggressively, and these arrests send a strong message to public employees everywhere that if you steal from the people, you’ll be caught and held accountable,” Rice said, noting that charges are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.