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 new and old wire cables from job sites, loaded them onto LIRR trucks, then transferred them onto their private vehicles. The wire was later sold to local recyclers for cash.
The thefts occurred between February and April 2011 and in November-December 2012, authorities said.
"It was easy money," Det. Sgt. James Flanagan of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority police said Friday. He did not say how police learned of the scheme.
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, (also known as Darryl Nowlin) of Brentwood; Paul Holm, 47, of Holtsville; and Joel Quiles, 38, of Wheatley Heights.
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, officials said.
None spoke in court, with their lawyers entering not-guilty pleas on their behalf.
"My client adamantly denies guilt in this matter," Holm's attorney, James D'Angelo of Central Islip, said outside the courtroom.
Carle Place 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 Aaron Donovan, an MTA spokesman.
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 21/3 to 7 years in prison.
Holm and Quiles each face up to 11/3 to 4 years in prison.