LIRR signal man convicted in copper theft scheme
A Mineola jury Friday convicted a Long Island Rail Road employee of conspiring with 14 co-workers to steal thousands of pounds of copper wire from job sites, Nassau prosecutors said.
Jurors, who had deliberated since Tuesday, acquitted another defendant accused of letting the thieves use his driver's license to sell the copper at a Farmingdale scrap yard.
That man, Craig Borsetti, 31, of East Moriches, was not employed by the railroad and says he's actually a victim -- of identity theft.
Borsetti and the convicted LIRR worker, Michael Carsten, 26, of Massapequa, were among 17 people -- 15 of them LIRR employees -- arrested in January in connection with the scheme, which netted more than $253,000 over three years.
"My client is disappointed," said Carsten's attorney, John Powers of Deer Park. "However, we both appreciate the time and the effort and the consideration the jury gave this matter."
Carsten, convicted of two counts of fifth-degree conspiracy, faces up to a year in jail at his sentencing on Jan. 16.
Prosecutors said that from January 2010 until January 2013, members of the LIRR communications department's "Gang 30" routinely collected old and new copper wire from job sites to sell for scrap.
Carsten maintained that while he was sometimes assigned to work with the other defendants, he had no role in the theft.
But another defendant, Michael Campbell, 33, of Bethpage, testified during the Hempstead trial that he stole LIRR copper with Carsten on several occasions.
"This is not guilt by association. This is guilt by participation," Assistant District Attorney Cristiana McSloy said during her closing statement Monday.
Nine of the defendants, including an LIRR communications department assistant foreman, have already pleaded guilty. None have been sentenced to prison, but all have been ordered to pay restitution. The LIRR has so far recovered $162,888, a spokesman said.
All of the workers charged in the case have resigned, except for Carsten, who is suspended without pay. Powers said Friday that he will likely be fired.
Jurors were not convinced that the theft ring included Borsetti, who prosecutors said allowed his co-defendants to use his driver's license for the scrap transactions.
Borsetti's attorney, Anthony LaPinta of Hauppauge, said his client lost his wallet in his apartment complex and it fell into the hands of another defendant who lived next door.
None of the defendants said Borsetti was involved in the scheme, and a scrap metal worker who told authorities he saw Borsetti at some of the transactions, could not identify him in the courtroom.
"This was a perfect example of how devastating identity theft can be on an innocent victim," LaPinta said.
With Bridget Murphy