Fifteen Long Island Rail Road workers have surrendered to face charges of stealing what multiple reports say was copper wiring worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York. Two scrap dealers who allegedly bought the wiring also face charges.
The workers are part of a highly skilled group of what the LIRR calls communication workers. They string wire for the railroad signal system. After they complete a job, they dump the scrap metal in bins in LIRR rail yards, and sources with knowledge of the case tell NBC 4 New York the workers are accused of stealing that scrap metal -- along with new copper wire -- and selling it.
Specific grand jury charges will be unsealed at their arraignments later Friday. A tip received last year by the LIRR and the MTA Inspector General prompted the investigation.
Sources familiar with the case tell NBC 4 New York the workers will be suspended without pay by the LIRR once the indictment is unsealed. If convicted, they could lose their pensions.
The union is expected to release a statement after the court proceeding.
The LIRR said it is already evaluating ways to prevent such alleged theft from occurring again, including by setting up storage bins that lock and installing video surveillance in the rail yards.
The district attorney's office and MTA declined to respond to the AP's requests for comment, but DA Kathleen Rice and the head of the railroad, Helena Williams, scheduled an afternoon press conference in Mineola.