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New York District Attorney charges 17 with copper theft

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice stated 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 and keeping the cash. Fifteen of the 17 are railroad employees.

Rice said that between January 1, 2010 and January 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 2 non-employees charged were acquaintances of work gang members.

An investigation by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority 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 in Farmingdale for a total of $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.

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. 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.

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.

“The LIRR and MTA Inspector General first became aware of possible wrongdoing by certain employees last year and immediately took action that led to these arrests,” said LIRR president Helena Williams. “We have been cooperating fully with the Nassau District Attorney’s office during the investigation. The 15 employees allegedly involved have been suspended without pay. Any employee found guilty of these types of charges faces dismissal from the LIRR.”

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

Charged in the indictment are:

Craig Borsetti, 31, of Mastic. Borsetti is charged with two counts each of Conspiracy in the Fourth and Fifth Degrees. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Afiba Moore, 26, of Brooklyn. Moore is charged with two counts each of Conspiracy in the Fourth and Fifth Degress, two counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Jose Almonte, 31, of Babylon. Almonte is charged with two counts each of Conspiracy in the Fourth and Fifth Degrees. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Eric Axelson, 51, of East Patchogue. Axelson is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Andrew Burke, 48, of Sayville. Burke is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and six counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Christopher Callesano, 31, of Bethpage. Callesano 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. Campbell 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.

Robert Toomey, 50, of Hicksville. Toomey is charged with four counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. He faces up to one year in jail if convicted.

Michael Carsten, 26, of Amityville. Carsten is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. He faces up to one year in jail if convicted.

Russell Genoino, 35, of Farmingville. Genoino is charged with four counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, two counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, four counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, and Theft of Services. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Kevin Graham, 29, of West Islip. Graham is charged with four counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, two counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, and four counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Panikos Pafitis, 33, of Mastic. Pafitis is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. He faces up to one year in jail if convicted.

Daniel Petroro, 26, of Islip. Petroro is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and four counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Daniel Rose, 35, of Rosedale. Rose is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and four counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Daniel Santander, 33, of Elmont. Santander is charged with two counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. He faces up to one year in jail if convicted

Leroy Simmonds, 50, of Bridgeport, Conn. Simmonds is charged with two counts each of Conspiracy in the Fourth and Fifth Degrees and Theft of Services. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Adisa Springle, 30, of Brooklyn. Springle is charged with two counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, four counts of Criminal Possession Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, two counts of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, four counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, and Theft of Services. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.