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Long IslandNassau

Man who stole truck, took down power lines is sentenced, prosecutors said

Joel Grasman, 51, a veteran NYC Transit worker,

Joel Grasman, 51, a veteran NYC Transit worker, is escorted by police on Aug. 27, 2013. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Elmont man who drove about a mile through his town two years ago with the boom of a stolen truck extended upright -- snapping power lines and damaging homes and cars -- was sentenced Wednesday to the 7 months he has already served in jail, and must pay fines and $1 million in restitution, county authorities said.

Joel Grasman, 54, was sentenced by acting state Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty to time served, 5 years of probation, a $1,000 fine and he must also pay restitution in the amount of $1,001,319.98, for damage caused to property, some of which was owned by companies including Verizon, LIPA and Cablevision, said acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas in a release.

Grasman's attorney, Peter Menoudakos Jr. of Garden City, said, "Despite the fact that the district attorney's office was recommending a 2 to 6 year sentence, I was very happy that the judge did not follow their recommendations and sentenced my client to time served with probation."

He said Grasman was also satisfied with the outcome.

Court papers said an IRS notice saying he owed $10,000 sent the MTA electrician into a panic, spurring him to snatch tools from his job to pay the debt before taking the 33-ton crane truck.

"The defendant caused a tremendous amount of destruction in a short period of time and thousands of families were impacted by his actions," said Singas.

He had pleaded guilty in April 2014 to charges of second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, fourth-degree criminal mischief and second-degree criminal tampering, officials said.

Grasman was a 23-year Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee on Aug. 27, 2013, when he drove the truck from an MTA facility in Richmond Hill, where he worked, through Elmont and Valley Stream.

The vehicle's extended boom pulled down utility wires, telephone poles and traffic signals.

He was arrested by Nassau police after abandoning the truck on the entrance ramp of the Southern State Parkway at Exit 15 in Valley Stream.


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