Photo by Herald file
Department of Conservation and Recreation District Manager Richard Stewart and state worker Joseph Falzone, above, are accused of stealing $500G worth of decorative iron from the Longfellow Bridge.
Two state employees have been charged with stealing $500,000 worth of historic, decorative iron - swiped from the ailing Longfellow Bridge - then selling it to a scrap yard for just $12,000.
Department of Conservation and Recreation District Manager Richard Stewart, 42, of Saugus and employee Joseph Falzone, 43, of Nashua, N.H., are accused of stealing more than 300 pieces of the bridge from a DCR yard in Stoneham this summer.
The pair allegedly used a DCR Bobcat forklift to heave the iron into a DCR dump truck, then drove it to a scrap yard in Everett where they sold their haul, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone's office.
Stewart already was on suspension from the DCR on similar allegations, Leone said.
"It is a violation of the public trust made all the more outrageous when you consider that they stole more than $500,000 worth of historic, public property to make $12,000 for themselves," he added.
Stewart and Falzone were arraigned yesterday at Malden District Court, where prosecutor Elisha Willis said the men made 12 round trips with an iron-laden truck from the Stoneham yard to Everett over four weekends in July and August.
"We are outraged this occurred at the department," said DCR Commissioner Rick Sullivan. "We have suspended both employees without pay. We take this extremely seriously. These types of actions will not be tolerated."
The scam was uncovered Sept. 4 when the DCR reported to police that almost 100,000 pounds of the decorative iron, removed from the Longfellow Bridge as part of a major refurbishment project, vanished from the Stoneham yard.
State police detectives said surveillance footage and analysis of tire tracks led them to suspect Stewart and Falzone had used certain vehicles at certain times to ship the iron to Everett.
Leone said the scrap yard in Everett was unaware the iron was stolen. He said the stolen metal was either melted down or cut up.
The men each were charged with 12 counts of receiving stolen goods and 12 counts of conspiracy to receive stolen goods.
In court, Stewart denied the allegations while Falzone claimed he helped ship the iron as part of his work duties, but made no money from the venture and had no idea the metal was from the Longfellow Bridge.
Judge Lee Johnson ordered the men held on $7,500 cash bail and scheduled a pretrial hearing for October 6.