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Probe snags alleged LIRR ‘Copper Crooks’ in theft ring

Posted: 6:12 PM, Jan 23, 2013
Updated: 2013-01-23 18:14:09-05

WEST ISLIP, NY (PIX11)  — Nassau County prosecutors will be calling 15 Long Island Rail Road communication workers “Copper Crooks” once an indictment is unsealed on Friday.

PIX 11 News has been informed that the linemen who specialize in the installation of fiber optics and telephone systems will be criminally charged with the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in scrap copper metal.

News of the arrests did not sit well with Christoper Natale, a 25-year signal foreman and chairman of the Brother of Railroad Signalmen.

“This is not indicative of Long Island Rail Road employees or our organization.  We would not ever condone such behavior.”

The LIRR rail yards in West Islip and Jamaica were the primary targets.  The used-up copper would be taken, then sold at a Long Island scrap yard.  Late last week, the union first received word of the more than two-year investigation. The  linemen were taken out of their rotations on Tuesday by the railroad.

The workers are set to turn themselves in at 7 a.m. Friday in Mineola.  If the alleged thefts among the workers — who’ve been on the job from between 5 and 25 years — date back to 2010, why weren’t they arrested sooner?

“That is really valid point because it’s politically motivated.  They tend to do these things to have these long drawn-out investigations when they could have picked these guys up three years ago, arrested them and fired them, and do what they had to do,” Natale said.

Coincidentally the union has also been working without a contract during that stretch. They say the MTA has not been negotiating in good faith.

The MTA would not comment on the investigation into this latest gravy-train scandal.  It was just last week that one of the Dr. Feelgoods filing fraudulent diagnosis to LIRR workers pleaded guilty to fraud in the billion dollar pension scandal.