Thursday, December 15, 2011

Selling Swipes May Be a Swindle, but Don’t Call It Larceny

Selling Swipes May Be a Swindle, but Don’t Call It Larceny

Published: December 13, 2011

It is a classic subterranean swindle, up there with turnstile hopping and token sucking: the selling of contraband swipes from an unlimited MetroCard to unquestioning subway riders.

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

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The scam is simple. An enterprising scofflaw invests in an unlimited pass and charges passengers less than the standard fare. After recouping the investment, the rest is pure profit — and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority loses out on legitimate fares.

It is a practice that is commonly classified by the authorities as larceny.

No more. On Tuesday, New York’s most powerful court ruled that the MetroCard scheme did not, in fact, meet the legal definition of petty larceny, and it overturned the 2009 conviction of a New Jersey man who, having served a day in jail for the crime, had fought his case all the way to the State Court of Appeals.

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