Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Goldfeder Proposes Stiffer Penalties for A-Train Copper Bandits

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder


Assemblyman Goldfeder introduces bill to make tampering with vital transit infrastructure a felony under New York State law

Theft last month of nearly 500 feet of copper wiring along A-Train track in Howard Beach caused transit nightmare for tens of thousands of commuters

Goldfeder: These thieves deserve more than a slap on the wrist

Howard Beach, Queens – Following the bold midnight theft of copper wiring along an above ground section of the A-Train in Queens that cut service to the subway line and created a transit nightmare for thousands of local families, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Howard Beach) is introducing legislation that would make it a felony to cause service disruptions by stealing vital transportation infrastructure.

"Every day, our families in southern Queens and Rockaway rely on limited transit options to get to work or school. Criminals who knowingly tamper with our vital transportation infrastructure just to make a buck deserve more than a slap on the wrist,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “By increasing penalties for this shameful crime, we can help protect our infrastructure and ensure reliable service for the families that depend on it."

The bill proposed by Goldfeder would amend the New York State Penal Codes in order to strengthen sentencing for criminal tampering that has the effect of disrupting public transportation and other public services. Under new legislation, causing “substantial interruptions” to transportation and other public infrastructure, either with the intent to steal or disrupt service would be considered a class D felony, which could result in up to 7 years imprisonment. 

Under current state law, criminal tampering with public services is a misdemeanor punishable anywhere from 15 days to one year in prison, or three years of probation. At the same time, the law imposes stricter punishments for purposefully interrupting or impairing transportation services. However, because of a legal loophole, intruders on subway tracks face stiffer penalties for tampering with infrastructure intending to cause disruptions than they would for doing so in order to steal it, even though both actions have the same effect of stopping service for commuters.    

Goldfeder's proposal follows the May 26th theft of more than 500 feet of copper wiring from the tracks of the A-train subway line near the Howard Beach station. The theft cut power to the line, disrupting service that night and throughout the following day and causing a transit nightmare for tens of thousands of commuters in southern Queens and Rockaway. In response, Goldfeder is calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to conduct a thorough investigation into the security breach and failed contingency plans intended to aid commuters during the morning rush hour.  

In his letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast requesting the investigation, Goldfeder emphasized that the security breach was "alarming" given the proximity of the A-train track to JFK International Airport. This raised serious concerns about the potential for terrorist attacks to the line, Goldfeder wrote. The A-Train is a primary route for thousands of air travelers that use the Howard Beach station every day to connect to the airport. 

"Deterring criminals with this law will make our transit system safer, more secure and more dependable for our families,"concluded Goldfeder. 

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