Spitzer, Kuriansky Announce Five Arrested In $250,000+ Parking Meter Thefts
Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Investigation Commissioner Edward J. Kuriansky today announced the arrests of five people for stealing over $250,000 from city parking meters.
It's alleged that the defendants began their scheme in January,1999 when an accomplice stole a parking meter and manufactured a master key that would open most of New York City's parking meters. The defendants mass produced these master keys, then went out in groups several nights a week in Manhattan and Brooklyn, broke into meters and stole as much as three thousand dollars in quarters each night. While making their rounds, the defendants used sophisticated counter-surveillance techniques, including evasive driving. The change was then rolled and exchanged at local delis and restaurants.
"The five people charged today thought they literally held the key to easy money," said Spitzer. "But in fact, time has run out on these defendants who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from city taxpayers."
"This is one of the biggest parking meter scams in City history, and certainly the largest ever by a gang of bandits operating outside City employ," said Kuriansky. "These 'coin artists' picked the lock on hundreds of municipal meters and pocketed over a million stolen quarters. Several nights a week for two years, they played the City's parking meters like their own personal slot machines, but unlike Las Vegas or Atlantic City, they always hit the jackpot! Fortunately, however, a savvy New Yorker spotted them in the act and tipped off DOI."
The eighteen month joint investigation involved wiretaps, search warrants, and videotape surveillance.
The defendants, all Russian and Ukranian nationals and immigrants, are charged with Grand Larceny in the 2nd degree and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the 2nd degree, both punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The defendants, against whom complaints have been filed, are:
Andrezy Nehailo, dob 4/13/70, unknown address, Brooklyn;
Roman Plisak, dob 6/18/66, 50 Shore Rd., Brooklyn;
Ostap Kapelioujnyi, dob 11/01/72, 2337 Andrews Ave., Bronx;
Gregory Bazar, dob 2/2/72, 46 Boundry Ave, Staten Island;
Oleg Manzheley, dob 6/16/61, 1354 West 6th St., Brooklyn
Spitzer and Kuriansky noted that their joint investigation is continuing and thanked Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik for his cooperation and assistance in the investigation, and for his commitment of substantial NYPD resources which contributed to today's arrests.
The Investigation is being conducted by the NYPD Detective Squad assigned to DOI, under the leadership of Deputy Inspector Robert Kelly, the office of Ron Calvosa, the Inspector General for the N.Y.C. Department of Transportation, it included Chief Investigative Auditor Marvin Putterman, Detective Ann Marie Kelly and former NYPD Detective Manuel Torres. Investigators from the OCTF were led by Supervising Investigator Diego Cruz, under the supervision of OCTF's Chief Investigator Mitch Lampert and William Casey, Chief Investigator for the Attorney General's Office. The case is being handled by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Amy Cohn and Special Assistant Deputy Attorney General Victoria Curran of the Statewide Organized Crime Task Force, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General George Quinlan and Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Chris Prather. Deputy Attorney General Peter Pope is the head of the Criminal Division.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations, they are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
Attention Radio Newsrooms: An audio cut from today's news conference is available by contacting the Attorney General's toll-free news line at 877-345-3466.