MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the sentencing today of a Queens woman for her involvement in a scam involving the use of hidden cameras and bank card “skimmers” to steal money from commuters’ bank accounts and financial institutions.
Teodora Zaharia, 28, of Kew Gardens, was sentenced today by Nassau County Court Judge Robert Spergel to nine months in jail. Zaharia pleaded guilty in March to Grand Larceny in the 4th Degree (an E felony), and agreed to forfeiture of $61,251.85 in cash found at her Queens apartment.
“Just as commuters should be able to feel physically safe riding the train, they have a right to feel financial secure as well,” DA Rice said. “My office, along with our partners at the MTA, will continue our efforts to ensure that commuters’ valuable personal information is not used to line the pockets of thieves.”
“We appreciate the efforts of the Nassau District Attorney’s office and the MTA Police for vigorously pursuing these identity theft cases. And we remind customers who use ticket machines to remain vigilant by always protecting their PIN when using a debit card and by reporting any suspicious behavior,” said Long Island Rail Road President Helena E. Williams.
Zaharia, along with her husband and co-defendant, Valer Zaharia, 38, also of Kew Gardens, were arrested on Oct. 28, 2013 when they were observed retrieving two skimmer devices and two hidden cameras from Ticket Vending Machines at the Sea Cliff LIRR station, not knowing that MTA Police had been monitoring the station for more than 72 hours. Valer Zaharia pleaded guilty earlier this month, and is due back in court for sentencing on May 12.
Two other defendants involved in the scam, Dorin Husa, 37, of Elmhurst, and Niculae Petre, 45, also of Elmhurst, each pleaded guilty before Judge Spergel in March to Criminal Possession of Forgery Devices (a D felony), and are awaiting sentencing.
Also charged in the scheme is Cezar Nastasa, who fled to the United Kingdom on Oct. 31, 2013, shortly after Husa, Petre and the Zaharias were arrested. Nastasa is charged with Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree, Conspiracy in the 4th Degree, five counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree, two counts of Unlawful Possession of a Skimmer Device in the 2nd Degree, and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Forgery Device. There is a warrant for his arrest.
Assistant District Attorney April Montgomery of DA Rice’s Economic Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case. The Zaharias are represented by Joseph Daniel, Esq. and Shawn Turck, Esq. Husa is represented by Jake LaSala, Esq. Petre is represented by Anthony Como, Esq.