MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a joint case involving ticket machine card skimmers at Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North stations investigated and prosecuted by her office and the MTA Police Department concluded today with the jail sentencing of two Queens men.
Dorin Husa, 38, and Niculae Petre, 46, both of Elmhurst, each received sentences of one year in jail today by Nassau County Court Supervising Judge Christopher Quinn. They were also ordered to forfeit $7,000 found in their shared apartment and considered to be proceeds from their crimes. The defendants pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of Forgery Devices (a D felony) in March.
Two days ago, Valer Zaharia, 38, of Kew Gardens, was sentenced by Nassau County Court Judge Tammy Robbins to 2 to 6 years in prison. Zaharia pleaded guilty last month to Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree (a D felony) and Conspiracy in the 4th Degree (an E felony), waived his right to appeal and agreed to forfeiture of $61,251.85 in cash found at the Queens apartment he shared with his wife and co-defendant, Teodora Zaharia. She was sentenced to 9 months in jail for the scheme last month after pleading to Grand Larceny in the 4th Degree (an E felony).
“These defendants could have taken advantage of many honest opportunities there are to make a living here, but instead they chose to take advantage of hardworking people just trying to get to work,” DA Rice said. “The MTA Police and my prosecutors were relentless in bringing these four thieves to justice and we will continue to work together to ensure that crimes against commuters don’t go unpunished.”
“The MTA is very grateful to District Attorney Rice and her staff for their thorough and successful prosecution of this case,” MTA Police Chief Michael Coan said. “The serious sentences meted out to these defendants will hopefully serve as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to defraud the MTA and its customers. Meanwhile, the MTA Police remain vigilant in our pursuit of these scammers and will continue to work closely with our local prosecutors to bring them to justice.”
The Zaharias 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.
Husa and Petre were arrested the next day after MTA detectives executed a court-ordered search warrant at their Elmhurst apartment and recovered materials used to manufacture credit card skimmers and cameras installed at Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Rail Road stations, as well as $7,000 in cash obtained using stolen bank information.
The search was conducted as part of an investigation stemming from the discovery on Oct. 16, 2013 of an unauthorized camera attached to a MTA Ticket Vending Machine at the Bayside LIRR station. An investigation by MTA Police led to the discovery of additional cameras and skimming devices manufactured by Husa and Petre at other LIRR stations in Nassau County, as well as Metro-North stations.
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. All the defendants are recently arrived Romanian nationals.
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.