New York

Charge Dropped Against Spectrum Cable Worker Arrested in Outage That Cut Service to 60K Customers in NYC

Charges have been dropped against the Spectrum cable employee initially suspected of cutting the fiber optic cable that wiped out TV, internet and phone service to 60,000 customers in Queens last month. 

Michael Tolve was arrested Wednesday night on a charge of criminal mischief but the Queens district attorney's office now says it is declining to prosecute pending further investigation. Tolve had been suspected in the June 26 vandalism that cut service to 60,000 Spectrum customers in Queens. 

The arrest is now sealed, prosecutors say. 

A message has been left for Tolve. 

When Tolve was arrested, a Spectrum spokesman said it was "disappointing" that an employee would "sabotage the unfrastructure we all work so hard to maintain and inconvenience our customers in this way." 

The cable company declined to comment Friday on the dropped charge. A Spectrum spokesman said, "That was a law-enforcement decision, and not something we have any involvement with." 

Spectrum says police are continuing to investigate vandalism to its other facilities.

At least two outages at Spectrum in recent weeks have been attributed to vandalism. In the June 26 incident, a fiber optic cable serving four major hubs was cut, causing an outage to Spectrum customers that started overnight and then spread across central Queens. Dozens of customers fumed on Twitter about the outage, with many complaining that it was affecting their businesses. 

There was another outage on Tuesday. It's not clear how many customers were affected in that case. 

One student in Forest Hills told News 4 she's lost service at least four times in the last few months and it affected her ability to do school projects. Customers have begged for help all the way up to Mayor de Blasio and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. 

Tolve belonged to the International Brotherhood Electrical Workers Local Union 3, whose members have been on strike since the end of March because they couldn't come to a contract agreement with Charter Communications, the owner of Spectrum, Queens Chronicle reports. The union has denied any involvement in either of the outages. 

(Disclaimer: NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast, a competitor of Charter Spectrum.)

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