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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

Due to what appears to be a colossal error on the part of the Nassau County Assessor’s office, or perhaps an errant interpretation of state law, nearly 2,000 military veterans and Gold Star families in Levittown and Island Trees will have to wait for their tax break until next year. 

 

Both the Levittown and Island Trees school districts are among several local school districts that recently approved resolutions extending the exemption to local veterans, even though budgets and Albany’s tax cap make it a tough choice. Earlier this year, trustees in both districts voted unanimously to provide a school tax exemption for veterans living in the district, starting with the 2014-15 school year. 

In response to the criticism from the community over the proposed sale of 11.3 acres of school district property housing the Stephen E. Karopczyc and Geneva N. Gallow school facilities, the Island Trees  Board of Education has revealed the details of an $18 million proposal to develop housing for seniors (age 55 and up).

 

“People should be aware of the whole story,” said Island Trees Schools Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy. “There is this perception that [the board] acted hastily... It was not just a quick decision over chump change.”


Sports

Kaitlyn Gerdes and Kelly Gerdes, seniors at MacArthur High School in the Levittown School District, have signed National Letters of Intent to continue playing soccer on the college level at Hofstra University this fall. They will each pursue a degree in exercise science.

 

Both girls are co-captains of the varsity soccer team and received All-County designations this fall. As sophomores, the twins assisted their team in winning the county, Long Island and New York State championship titles. As a junior, Kaitlyn was designated as an All-

Class player, while Kelly garnered an All-Class designation in her junior year and has been named an All-Long Island and All-Conference player. Kaitlyn and Kelly also play for the Farmingdale United travel soccer team and are peer leaders at their school.

 

— Submitted by the Levittown Public School District 

An international soccer conference featuring the legendary Pelé is coming to the local area. Soccer as the Beautiful Game: Football’s Artistry, Identity and Politics is at Hofstra University in Hempstead through April 13.

 

“Pelé transformed and transcended the game of soccer,” said Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz. “While the world first came to know him for extraordinary athletic feats, his soccer career was, in many respects, simply a prelude to an extraordinary life of service as a philanthropist and advocate. He understands the power and responsibility his soccer legacy carries, and has used it to improve the lives of others.”

 

Members of the Long Island Junior Soccer League are invited to join the conference as a guest and at no charge on Saturday, April 12 at Hofstra University. Panels and discussions on Saturday will include experts in coaching, leagues and sports media and were designed with the soccer enthusiast in mind.


Calendar

Meet the Candidates - April 8

Special Town Meeting - April 9

Blood Drive - April 9


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