A Long Beach highway assistant supervisor and a former employee stole $14,000 in salt spreaders and sold them as scrap for about $300, officials said Tuesday.Charles Porcaro, 48, of Oceanside, an assistant supervisor, was arraigned on charges of third-degree grand larceny and official misconduct, while former part-time employee Jeorking Welker, 34, of Long Beach, was arraigned on third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
In late September, workers, including Porcaro, were instructed to move three salt spreaders from one facility to the department's unlocked storage lot, part of the city's preparation for the Long Beach Fall Festival, Nassau prosecutors said. City officials said the lot was locked.
The spreaders, which could be attached to dump trucks, were purchased after superstorm Sandy, said Jim LaCarrubba, Long Beach public works commissioner.
But Porcaro contacted Welker and told him he could take them from the lot, prosecutors said.
One day later, Welker rented a truck in Oceanside to transport the equipment, prosecutors said, and a day or so after that, he sold the spreaders to a scrap metal company for $313.
As crews last year readied equipment for winter, LaCarrubba said, he noticed the new spreaders were gone.
Porcaro, a 30-year employee, and Welker, fired in 2013 after not showing up for work, were arrested after city officials contacted District Attorney Kathleen Rice to launch a joint investigation, said city manager Jack Schnirman. "We have a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of funny business and any employee misconduct," he said.
The spreaders were scrapped and could not be recovered, prosecutors said.
"Long Beach has been hit hard enough by natural disaster -- the last thing the city needs is employees stealing equipment from its taxpayers, too," Rice said in a statement.
Porcaro was conditionally released and is due back in court June 26. Welker's bail was set at $7,500 bond or $2,500 cash; he is due back in court Wednesday.
Porcaro's attorney did not return a call. Welker was represented by Legal Aid, which does not comment on cases.
LaCarrubba said it cost $17,000 to replace the salt spreaders.