Thursday, March 20, 2014

Three MTA Workers Charged with Copper Wire Theft

Three Long Island Rail Road signal workers are accused of stealing thousands of pounds of copper wire from the railroad and selling it for scrap, authorities said. The men, part of the LIRR's communications department based in Huntington, were arrested and arraigned on the charges Friday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Authorities say the workers removed old and new wire from job sites, loaded them onto LIRR trucks, and then transferred them onto their own vehicles. The wire was later sold to local recyclers for cash. The thefts occurred between February and April 2011 and in November-December 2012.

"It was easy money," Detective James Flanagan of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority police said.

The latest arrests came a year after 15 other LIRR employees were arrested and later convicted of similar crimes.

The three employees are charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. They were identified as Robert Nowlin, 48, of Brentwood; Paul Holm, 47, of Holtsville; and Joel Quiles, 38, of Wheatley Heights, Long Island.

Nassau County prosecutors cited one instance in which Nowlin sold 10,000 pounds of wire for about $13,000, but provided no totals for the stolen wire or amount of cash netted.

Each of the defendants has been suspended without pay from the railroad and will face prison time, MTA officials said.
"Stealing material that belongs to the public is not only a violation of the public's trust, but an act of stealing from, in this case, every rider on the Long Island Rail Road," Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice said.

"I'm proud of the cooperation between my office, the MTA Inspector General and the MTA Police Department to hold public employees accountable to the people they serve."

None of the defendants spoke in court, having their lawyers enter not-guilty pleas on their behalf.

"My client adamantly denies guilt in this matter," said Holm's attorney, James D'Angelo, outside the courtroom. Attorney Kimberly Lerner, who represented Nowlin and Quiles, declined to comment.

"The LIRR does not tolerate employees who steal from their employer and from the taxpayers who support our operation," said LIRR President Helena E. Williams.

Bail for Nowlin, who faces two counts on each charge, was set at $20,000 cash or bond. Bail for Holm and Quiles was set at $10,000 cash or bond.

If convicted of the top charge, Nowlin faces up to 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison. Holm and Quiles each face up to 1-1/3 to 4 years in prison.

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