Photo by Jess Gately
Steven Saling, left, was robbed at the Malden Center T stop, but Transit Police Detective Andrea Purcell and Lt. Detective Mark Gillespie helped capture the suspect.
Transit cops on Friday collared an alleged crook accused of posing as a good Samaritan and then robbing a man in a wheelchair at a train station last month.
The ALS-afflicted victim, Steven Saling, was waiting for MBTA employees to fix the delayed elevator at Malden Center train station at 1:15 p.m. on July 14, when 39-year-old Scott A. Marra of Malden offered to keep him company. Marra then allegedly snatched his wallet from his hand.
"It was a good day for me speech-wise but still, I was impressed that this guy never missed a word," Saling told the Herald in an e-mail.
"Suddenly, he declares, 'Hey, the elevator is coming up!' (it wasn't). I looked through the window and he reached down and pulled my wallet right out of my hands.
"The (expletive) didn't even bother to run," Saling wrote. "He just walked away, around the vestibule and down the stairs as I softly protested."
He said there was no one on the platform when he was robbed, but that passengers who overheard the police speaking with Saling afterward were "aghast."
The thief made off with cash, medical ID cards, a credit card and an MBTA pass specifically for the disabled, according to transit police.
Marra reportedly used Saling's credit card twice, dropping $100 at a Malden Hess gas station each time, said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo. The stolen T pass was also used at Malden Center.
Diagnosed with ALS in 2006, Saling, a landscape architect, has become an advocate for patients who suffer from the debilitating disease and is now working to create a residence specifically for ALS patients - the first of its kind.
Saling's outing that day was his "biggest wheelchair outing to date," he said. He had taken the bus, then the subway, and was to board the commuter rail at Malden Center before manuevering his wheelchair a couple miles to visit his aunt and uncle in Andover - a route he traveled everyday before his diagnosis, he said. But the heartless crook crushed his plans.
Marra yesterday was held at transit police headquarters on $10,000 bail after he was arrested Friday without incident. He will be arraigned Monday on charges of unarmed robbery.