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 - Anti-Japan protesters on disputed islands march near the Japanese Consulate General in Shang...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What’s behind strained China-Japan relations

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and China on Thursday mark the 50th anniversary of the 1972 normalization of their ties, but there isn’t much of a celebratory mood. Improved ties between Asia’s two biggest economies are considered vital to the region’s stability and prosperity, but they remain at odds over disputed East China Sea islands and […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Pollution from Florida mining a concern with Hurricane Ian

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The polluted leftovers of Florida’s phosphate fertilizer mining industry, more than 1 billion tons in “stacks” that resemble enormous ponds, are at risk for leaks or other contamination when Hurricane Ian comes ashore in the state, environmental groups say. Florida has 24 such phosphogypsum stacks, most of them concentrated in […]
23 hours ago
This GOES-East GeoCcolor satellite image taken at 10:10 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, and pr...
Associated Press

Hurricane Ian nears Florida coast, threatening floods, winds

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida residents rushed to board up their homes, stash precious belongings on upper floors and flee from oncoming Hurricane Ian, fearing the monstrous storm that knocked out power to all of Cuba and left 11 million people without power would slam into their state’s west coast with catastrophic winds and […]
23 hours ago
FILE - The angel Moroni statue atop the Salt Lake Temple is silhouetted against a cloud-covered sky...
Associated Press

Churches defend clergy loophole in child sex abuse reporting

It was a frigid Sunday evening at the Catholic Newman Center in Salt Lake City when the priest warned parishioners who had gathered after Mass that their right to private confessions was in jeopardy. A new law would break that sacred bond, the priest said, and directed the parishioners to sign a one-page form letter […]
23 hours ago
This photo released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Sirhan Sir...
Associated Press

RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan challenges his parole denial

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, is asking a judge on Wednesday to free him from prison by reversing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s denial of his parole earlier this year. Sirhan shot Kennedy moments after the U.S. senator from New York claimed victory in California’s pivotal […]
23 hours ago
Follow @KTAR923...
Sponsored Content by Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Sponsored Articles

...
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.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
NYC transit impostor released from jail