NYC transit impostor released from jail

Dec 25, 2013, 5:02 PM

NEW YORK (AP) – A man arrested more than two dozen times for posing as a transit worker to steal buses and trains in New York City and drive the routes has been paroled.

Darius McCollum was released Tuesday night, after pleading guilty earlier this year to stealing a Trailways bus in 2010, when he was arrested behind the wheel on the highway that leads to Kennedy International Airport.

He had faced up to 15 years if convicted at a trial, but the Queens district attorney and his lawyer worked out a deal: McCollum will voluntarily enter a program to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy. He was diagnosed with what was until recently called Asperger’s syndrome but is now referred to as an autism spectrum disorder, and his repeated arrests stem in part from it.

He told The Associated Press Wednesday he plans to get in touch with a nonprofit to help him find a therapist, and work or vocational school.

“I’m actually happy. It was a rough process but I finally made it,” he said, adding his outlaw days were behind him. “I can’t afford to get arrested again, I can’t deal with the jail thing _ it’s too much, the gang mentality.

McCollum, 49, had the subway map memorized by the time he was 8, and tried unsuccessfully to get a job with the transit system. Instead he became a transit impostor and has been arrested 29 times. But he is not a violent criminal _ he just drives the routes, fixes tracks and takes tolls without an official job until he’s caught by police.

McCollum has become a celebrity for escapades that began at age 15, when he piloted a subway train six stops without any passengers noticing. He grew up in Queens near a station serving two Metropolitan Transportation Authority lines, and learned the mechanics of the transit system from workers who took an interest in him.

Part of the problem is McCollum wasn’t diagnosed with the disorder until recently. He was first handed literature on the topic about 10 years ago during a Manhattan case, but the judge refused to order a psychiatric evaluation after she said she looked the disorder up online and decided he didn’t have it. A treatment program had never previously been proposed as a solution to his crimes.

Prosecutors, the judge and his attorney are all hopeful he’ll be able to stay out of trouble. McCollum said Wednesday he won’t let them down. He’s staying with friends in Queens for now, and was spending his first day of freedom in Manhattan with filmmakers making a documentary about his life.

He got to 34th street on the subway.

“I went down into the station, got a metro card, got on a train, and here I am,” he said.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2019, file photo, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to th...
Associated Press

Gaetz friend to be sentenced on sex crimes, other counts

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has cooperated in investigations of two dozen people for sex trafficking and other crimes, but it may not be enough to spare him a long time in prison when he is sentenced Thursday. Joel […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a meeting with governors and heads of R...
Associated Press

Russian FM: US, NATO directly involved in Ukraine conflict

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister on Thursday accused the West of becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine by supplying it with weapons and training its soldiers. Sergey Lavrov also said that Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities and other key infrastructure that have left millions without power, heating and water were intended […]
6 hours ago
This aerial image courtesy of Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources shows lava flows on Mauna ...
Associated Press

Prayers? Bombs? Hawaii history shows stopping lava not easy

HONOLULU (AP) — Prayer. Bombs. Walls. Over the decades, people have tried all of them to stanch the flow of lava from Hawaii’s volcanoes as it lumbered toward roads, homes and infrastructure. Now Mauna Loa — the world’s largest active volcano — is erupting again, and lava is slowly approaching a major thoroughfare connecting the […]
6 hours ago
Britain's Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, watch the NBA basketball game between the Bos...
Associated Press

Racism row erupts as William and Kate visit Boston

LONDON (AP) — Prince William’s office said “racism has no place in our society” as he sought to prevent the backlash over his godmother’s treatment of a Black advocate for survivors of domestic abuse from overshadowing his trip to the United States. Lady Susan Hussey, 83, resigned Wednesday as an honorary member of the royal […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Iran’s national soccer team receives subdued welcome home

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran’s national soccer team received a subdued welcome home after its World Cup defeat against the United States, a match played against the backdrop of ongoing anti-government protests in Iran. The players returned to Iran late Wednesday, a day their 1-0 loss. Anti-government protesters, considering the team a symbol of the regime, […]
6 hours ago
A woman uses her phone in front of monitors showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm w...
Associated Press

Asian shares gain after Fed chair signals slower rate hikes

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares advanced in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a rally on Wall Street spurred by the Federal Reserve chair’s comments on easing the pace of interest rate hikes to tame inflation. Signs that China may be shifting its approach to containing COVID-19 outbreaks to focus more on vaccinations, while some cities […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
NYC transit impostor released from jail