New York DA Charges 17 with Stealing Copper from Railroad

Railroad employees allegedly stole copper wire and sold it for scrap.

January 31, 2013
Recycling Today Staff

Nassau County (New York) District Attorney Kathleen Rice has announced that a grand jury indictment has 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. Fifteen of the 17 people indicted are railroad employees.

Rice said 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.

According to the district attorney, an investigation by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Inspector General 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 vehicles. From there, they sold the stolen wire to Two Brother’s Scrap Metal, a Farmingdale, N.Y.-based scrap metal recycler, for $253,694. 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.

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 catch the thieves in the act.

MTA Inspector Barry Kluger, says, “The brazen actions of these defendants and the nature and magnitude of the thefts, as alleged in the indictment, are certainly alarming. Now that this phase of the investigation is complete, my office has begun to examine the apparent lack of effective supervision of these employees, as well as the evident vulnerabilities in the LIRR’s inventory controls. How could these thefts have happened, and how could it have continued over such a long period of time, are questions that need to be answered. I wish to thank Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and her staff, for joining us in aggressively pursuing the matter, and devoting substantial resources, time, and attention to this investigation.”

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.