An Elmont man was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly stole a work truck from the Metropolitan Transit Authority and went on a rampage while driving through Elmont as he struck and downed light poles and trees for blocks, Nassau County police said.
Joel Grasman, 51, of 513 Kirkman Ave., was arraigned Aug. 28 and ordered held on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond during the court appearance at First District Court in Hempstead.
Grasman, a Metropolitan Transit Authority employee, is accused of entering the agency’s Richmond Hill work yard and stealing a 2013 Mack “boom” truck, police said. In addition to the truck, Grasman allegedly also stole welding equipment from the yard.
According to Insp. Kenneth Lack, a Nassau County police spokesman, Grasman allegedly stole the truck because the welding equipment he was initially attempting to steal from the yard would not fit in his personal vehicle.
Cops said Grasman drove the truck to his Elmont home and unloaded the stolen welding equipment. As he was leaving, the boom of the truck began to rise and Grasman continued to drive. Police and witnesses said the boom struck numerous telephone poles, traffic signals, utility wires and trees. He finally abandoned his truck at the ramp of the Southern State Parkway near Exit 15.
The destruction left more than 6,100 residents without power in the area after knocking down 15 utility poles and 12 transformers, officials from the Long Island Power Authority said. The damage also interrupted Verizon and Optimum service, said police.
Authorities estimated Grasman’s rampage left a bill exceeding $500,000.
Public records show Grasman worked as a light maintainer with the MTA since 1989. It was unclear if he has been suspended from his $64,253-per-year position. A spokesman for the MTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
He was arrested by Fourth Precinct officers at the corner of N. Ascan Street and Home Street in North Valley Stream. As he was led from a police precinct in handcuffs Tuesday, Grasman said “it was a mistake,” as he walked past scores of reporters and television cameras.
Police charged Grasman with second-degree and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, as well as first-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree criminal tampering and second-degree criminal mischief.