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Man’s conviction in $1 million heist stands, high court rules

Man’s conviction in $1 million heist stands, high court rules

A New Jersey man convicted in a 2003 copy machine theft valued at $1 million will not get a new t

A New Jersey man convicted in a 2003 copy machine theft valued at $1 million will not get a new trial, the state’s highest court ruled last week.

Nasin Arafet, 45, had taken his case to the Court of Appeals, arguing prosecutors improperly used evidence of prior tractor-trailer thefts or thefts by accomplices.

The Court of Appeals Thursday voted to uphold Arafet’s conviction in a 4-3 decision.

Schenectady County prosecutor Philip Mueller welcomed the decision Friday.

The disputed prior acts, Mueller said, all went to prove Arafet or his accomplices had the know-how to unload a truckload of $1 million in copy machines without a trace.

“Very few people would have had the specialized skill, knowledge, access to equipment or access to covert facilities to carry out the crime successfully,” Mueller said.

Of the four prior acts, the court found three were proper. The fourth, seen as an unneeded duplicate, was not proper, but found to be harmless given the weight of the evidence.

Arafet was convicted after a 2005 trial of stealing the truckload of Xerox copiers from a truck yard in Rotterdam.

He was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in state prison.

Investigators had little to go on until they found a Thruway toll card, Mueller said.

The card, which had the expected entrance and exit from the Thruway and times, had Arafet’s fingerprint on it.

They knew it was Arafet’s, because Arafet’s fingerprints were in the federal database for a prior tractor-trailer theft, Mueller said.

From there, they got Arafet’s cellphone records, which showed him coming up the Thruway just in time to take the truck, then going back to New Jersey.

His first call after taking the truck, Mueller said, was to a warehouse operator in New Jersey.

In one of the disputed pieces of evidence, prosecutors introduced the operator’s prior record in fencing stolen goods.

Another call, Mueller said, was to an associate in Florida, a man who had originally recruited Arafet for a 1996 trailer theft.

The next day, that man’s cellphone records showed him leaving Florida and arriving in New Jersey, just in time to help Arafet dispose of the copiers.

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