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DA Scraps LIRR Copper Wire Thieves

Bethpage residents among 17 charged 

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.


News

In response to the county’s fly-by-night decision to remove 176 old oak trees along Seaman’s Neck Road, earlier this month, New York State Sen. Kemp Hannon has issued a letter to Nassau County Department of Public Works Commissioner Shila Shah-Gavnoudias regarding constituents’ concerns with the appearance of the roadway.

In his letter, Hannon asks Commissioner Shah-Gavnoudias if the removal of the trees were under the jurisdiction of LIPA or PSEG.

“If not, I would like to know who made the decision to remove these trees and why,” Hannon states. “I request you review this case and take whatever course of action necessary.”

U.S. Navy Veteran Richard Meyerowitz of Levittown joined the military in 1962, enlisting straight out of high school. While he would never see combat, Meyerowitz served as a boilerman aboard the U.S.S. Dewey amid the United States’ blockade of Cuba.

“They gave us our orders,” Meyerowitz said, “turn any vessels away. If not, blow ‘em out of the water.”

During the blockade, Meyerowitz said he only encountered one ship, which they warned to turn back. Just a kid at the time, Meyerowitz said it didn’t occur to him at the time, how the country could have been on the verge of nuclear war.


Sports

Christopher Joseph of Levittown was recently selected to play on the United States world university hockey team in Italy this year. A 2009 MacArthur High School graduate, Joseph was captain of his high school team for two seasons, leading them to two championships. Joseph would later go on to play junior hockey for New York Apple Core and the New Jersey Rockets junior ‘A’ team.

Joseph’s parents, Hal and Theresa, along with his brother Robert and sister Kristin said they are very proud of Christopher’s accomplishments and are cheering him on as he heads off to Italy.

Farmingdale State College had four players named to the 2014 D3baseball.com All-New York Team. Senior outfielder Edward Bergmann of East Meadow, earned First Team honors, while junior shortstop Anthony Alvino of Lindenhurst was named to the Second Team. Junior outfielder Michael Marino of Franklin Square and sophomore pitcher Alex Weingarten of East Rockaway also earned Third Team honors this year.

Bergmann batted a team-leading .421 this season and also led the Rams in hits (53), runs scored (42), doubles (8), on-base percentage (.503), stolen bases (30) and held a perfect fielding percentage. Nationally, Bergmann ranks 4th for stolen bases per game (0.88), 10th in stolen bases, 23rd in both on-base percentage and batting average and 29th in runs scored per game (1.21).


Calendar

BOE Planning Session

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Bad Seed Auditions

Thursday, Aug. 28

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs

Friday, Aug. 29



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