MASSENA - A Massena man working for a subcontractor at Alcoa West was jailed Wednesday afternoon after being charged with stealing more than $3,000 worth of copper from the company since the fall of 2013.
Massena-based state police charged Harold F. Martin III, 27, of 24 Talcott St., Massena, with third-degree grand larceny. He was arraigned by Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow and sent to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail set at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond. The value of the stolen copper was reported to be as high as $10,000.
Martin, in a statement he signed for state police investigators, said he had worked for ABM Janitorial Services at the Alcoa West Plant since November 2012.
“I don’t make a lot of money, and my girlfriend was pregnant. Money was real tight, and I ended up coming across ... blocks made of copper, kind of by the door, I used to scrap metal for extra money, and I knew I could sell them to Massena Metal for money to pay bills, give my kids a Christmas, pay my car insurance and rent. My girlfriend wasn’t working at the time, and times were real tough,” he said in his statement to police.
Martin said he initially took for or five blocks from the plant and placed in his vehicle. He said he took the copper to Massena Metals and received a couple hundred dollars. He said he took additional couple of blocks from time to time, estimating he had probably taken 50 of the copper blocks.
Mr. Sharlow, noting Martin had a prior felony conviction, said the bail amount had been recommended by the District Attorney’s Office. He also said state police Bureau of Criminal Investigator investigators had informed the court there had been Facebook postings suggesting Martin was considering leaving the area.
Martin denied that report. “They picked me up at work today. I never made a statement like that. Where would I go?” he asked.
Defense attorney Denice (Goodrich) Smith, participating in the county’s program to provide felony offenders with attorneys at their initial arraignment, said she felt the bail recommendation made by St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney A. Michael Gebo was a little high.
She said Martin had deep family ties to Massena, had previously successfully completed a probationary term with no violations and had no record of failure to appear in court on pending charges. She also noted he had an 18-month-old daughter and had three children living with him.
“I don’t think he poses a flight risk. I think releasing him under the supervision of the probation department would be more appropriate. He has always shown up for court,” Ms. Smith said.
Mr. Sharlow said the defense attorney had made a persuasive argument, but he was going to set bail at $5,000 cash until a preliminary hearing he tentatively set for Monday. “We’ll get a few more facts about his situation between now and then,” he said.
The court also signed a temporary order directing Martin to stay off Alcoa property.