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Updated: Arrest Made But Charges Dropped; Vandals Cut Charter’s Fiber Cables in Queens Again

Phillip Dampier July 13, 2017 Charter Spectrum, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't 7 Comments

A second fiber cut in two weeks left 30,000 Queens residents with no cable service for hours. (Image: CBS New York)

A second major cable outage in two weeks left 30,000 Queens customers of Charter Communications without phone, TV and internet service Tuesday, after vandals severed the company’s fiber optic cables.

A Long Island man was arrested Wednesday night at his Long Island home for allegedly causing the first outage, which wiped out service in the same area for almost 16 hours on June 26.

The NYPD issued a press release stating Michael Tolve (48) of Wantagh, N.Y. was charged with criminal mischief and is alleged to have cut fiber cables and removed a digital memory card from a nearby surveillance camera to avoid being detected. He was later identified from other surveillance camera footage.

Charter Communications claims Tolve is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 3, one of the unions that has been involved in a strike against Charter for several months. He worked as a fiber technician for both Charter Communications and its predecessor Time Warner Cable for 14 years. The cable company puts the damage estimate for the first cable cut in June at $67,000. Charter claims it has experienced 106 malicious cable cuts in its New York-area network since unionized cable technicians went on strike on March 28. The company has filed police reports on all of them.

“It’s disappointing that one of our employees would unlawfully sabotage the infrastructure we all work so hard to maintain and inconvenience our customers in this way,” Charter spokesman John Bonomo said in an email. “We intend to support the prosecution of these crimes to the fullest extent of the law, as they put our customers’ well-being in jeopardy, cause local businesses to suffer, and are a general inconvenience for all.”

Both fiber cuts strategically affected the largest possible number of customers with the least amount of effort. Charter officials said they detected the fiber cuts and dispatched repair crews immediately, but restoring service was “a gradual process” that took several hours.

Update (7/17): The Queens district attorney’s office has declined to press charges against Tolve, and all charges against him have been dropped pending an additional investigation.


Currently there are 7 comments on this Article:

  1. David says:

    Please make a retraction to this statement as the man in question was released due to lack of evidence with the DA dropping all charges

    • We have updated the story to reflect the charges have been dropped.

      It should be a given to everyone that all suspects are innocent until a court and/or jury finds them guilty. That the police would charge Mr. Tolve does not make him guilty of anything. That the charges have been dropped should be interpreted as either Mr. Tolve isn’t guilty or the D.A.’s office believes it has insufficient evidence to prove his guilt to the satisfaction of a jury or judge.

      I, for one, hope he is innocent because such cases of vandalism would damage the union’s reputation and they certainly don’t need any bad PR.

  2. GSpector says:

    Well, if the DA did indeed drop all charges, I would say that it shows which side the DA is on and it’s not on the side of Justice.

    My reasoning is simple.
    The man Arrested had the skill set to do the cutting,
    The man Arrested had the knowledge to know where to cut,
    The man Arrested knew how to deal with the camera’s memory card,
    The man Arrested was part of the union that was involved in the strike against that cable company,
    And most of all, the man Arrested was identified in the camera footage this guy did not tamper with.

    • The DA isn’t on the side of justice? That’s absolutely hilarious…. I dont know who you are but if the DA doesn’t pursue a prosecution it’s because the evidence won’t add up to a conviction! The man they arrested Mr. Tolve is innocent! The man identified in the footage is not Mr. Tolve. I would love to know what inside information you have. Lol Its amazing that the 1st amendment rights of the people are used in such an abusive way. Please use your contacts on the inside to help find the truth about what happened. And to the author of this post, please print a retraction with a full apology to Mr. Tolve!

    • Dcnelson says:

      What law school did you fail out of? Your reasoning is straight up stupid.

      You say it had to be this individual because:

      -“He had the skill set to do the cutting”
      Anyone can go to Home Depot and get a pair of wire cutters and cut cable. No skill set needed to do this.

      -“The man arrested had the knowledge to know where to cut”
      Are you sure? I actually used to work for the company and know this guy. I can tell you he was a Manhattan plant tech and didnt step foot in queens. When I worked there I also worked Manhattan and had no knowledge of the queens plant. This statement you made shows you know nothing about how the company works and didn’t bother researching before making your statements which is why you probably failed out of law school as stated above.

      -“the man arrested knew how to deal with the cameras memory card”
      Fiber optic technicians don’t install or work on security cameras so why would you believe he has knowledge in regards to a cameras memory card?

      -“the man arrested is part of a union that was involved in the strike against the company”
      Wow, you made an almost true statement. Yes he is part of the union but you state the union was involved in a strike against the company. The union is still involved in a strike against them as they are fighting to keep their medical benefits, pension and trying to stop the company from engaging in their unfair labor practices. Simply google search Spectrum Cable or Charter communications as they are the same and add the word unfair labor practice and you will see how the company treats its union and non union employees.

      Your statement also says that you believe all of these union workers are criminals and responsible. Don’t be too surprised if it turns out to be an inside job by the company to try to bury the union.

      -“and most of all the man was identified in the camera footage this guy did not tamper with.”
      Please send me the link to the camera footage along with any photos you may have so I can see the proof you have. Especially since there has never been a case of someone being arrested simply because they fit a profile.

      This person was released and not charged when they determined that the person in the video was indeed not them so your statement once again is wrong wrong wrong.

      Time to give up your arm chair detective shield because you really are terrible at coming up with a good case.

  3. hillary says:

    people always want to lock people up without evidence. See russia. It was apparently ok for hillary to hire foreigners for opposition research against a political opponent. It was also ok for obama’s Loretta lynch to allow a foreign spy to stay in america with an expired visa. Yet neither are in prison.

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