Valer Zaharia sentenced in LIRR 'skimming scam,' DA says
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A Queens man who along with his wife admitted to participating in a "skimming" scam using Long Island Rail Road ticket vending machines to steal money from commuters was sentenced Tuesday to 2 to 6 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Valer Zaharia, 38, of Kew Gardens, pleaded guilty last month to third-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy, waiving his right to appeal and agreeing to forfeit more than $60,000 in cash found in the apartment he shared with his wife, the Nassau County district attorney's office said in a news release.
Nassau County Court Judge Tammy Robbins handed down Zaharia's sentence Tuesday in Mineola.
His wife, Teodora Zaharia, 28, was sentenced last month to 9 months in jail after pleading guilty in March to fourth-degree grand larceny and also agreeing to forfeit the money.
The Zaharias were arrested last October after Metropolitan Transportation Authority police caught them retrieving skimmer devices and hidden cameras from ticket vending machines at the Sea Cliff LIRR station.
Prosecutors said the purpose of the scheme was to use the information to empty victims' bank accounts.
"The couple that stole together will not be staying together for the next few years, as they pay for their crimes against the riders of the Long Island Rail Road," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
Two other defendants involved in the scheme -- Dorin Husa, 37, and Niculae Petre, 45, both of Elmhurst -- both pleaded guilty in March to possession of forgery devices and are awaiting sentencing.
Police are also looking for Cezar Nastasa, who is charged with being part of the scam and who officials said fled to Great Britain on Oct. 31, soon after the other suspects were arrested. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
With Candice Ruud