Social Media FAIL! NY Man Arrested after Posting “How To” Video on Facebook & YouTube showing him Tampering with Red Light / Traffic Cameras
Meet 42 y/o Stephen Ruth. That is his mug shot below…
Stephen was all smiles not withstanding his arrest on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 when he was charged with four (4) counts of criminal tampering and obstruction of governmental administration. The arrest was precipitated by Stephen posting what has been dubbed “an instructional video” (which you can watch by clicking here) to his Facebook page wherein he records himself using an expandable pole to push red light / traffic cameras skyward such that they could not capture motorists running red lights.
Stephen was easily located and arrested shortly after the police had received several tips regarding his Facebook video and were able to confirm that he had effectively sabotaged traffic cameras on Ocean Avenue and the Long Island Expressway South Service Road August 21 and August 24, and that he had also tampered with a camera on Hawkins Avenue on Monday, August 24th, 2015, a day before his arrest. In a one (1) minute video Stephen tells his viewers: “To do this successfully, all you need is a pair of balls and a painter’s extension rod. I’m going to show you how easy it is to take the power back.”
While dressed in a white shirt and tie Stephen takes a pole and raises it to the mounted red-light camera, pushing the device upward stating that “it doesn’t take but more than a minute to do this, and the gratification… is huge.”
Stephen’s motivation for disabling that particular recording device was: “This camera has gotten me numerous times for not waiting three seconds. Who’s to say that I need to wait three seconds after I clearly see that there is no one coming in my direction? This is government taking advantage and it’s going to stop.” Stephen goes on to boast that “by taking this one camera out of commission I just saved people about $10,000.” There are reportedly fifty (50) red light / traffic cameras throughout Suffolk County, NY and anyone caught running a red light by one (1) faces an $80.00 fine (which is cheap by Miami standards where such a violation starts at almost double – $158 – and if you fail to pay it within thirty (30) days then it jumps up to $277).
Adding insult to injury (and compounding his problems), immediately after being released from jail Stephen again took to social media, posting the following on Facebook: “To all the people thinking “why would he do that? Didn’t he think he was going to get arrested?” Of course I knew I would be arrested. I did it for the people who come back from war and get abused by these cameras. I did it because senior citizens are getting these, the same ones that went to war for us. These same seniors live in New York’s high cost environment and are being forced out of New York because of its high taxes. I also did it because every vehicle that you see with an out of state license plate is not receiving these tickets regardless of who they are. These same people live in our state and pay lower insurance rates because their cars are registered out of state under someone else’s name.”
Memo to Stephen: Can you spell “FAIL!”? Because that is what you did. You are not alone in disliking certain laws and governmental intrusions. And while I disagree with many folks “beefs” with both the law and “the man” I personally happen to both sympathize and agree with your position in regard to traffic cameras… BUT you don’t see me readjusting them with a selfie stick. That was Mistake #1. Mistake #2 was boasting about it on social media (were I to go all vigilante and do what you did then I assure you that I would do it sneakily, quite sneakily indeed). Mistake #3 was your follow-up Facebook explanation, which, while seemingly intended to elaborate on your reasoning, instead and in fact serves as a statement against interest (also know as a confession / admission) which will be introduced against you in your upcoming criminal court trial. I suppose that you are anticipating that a jury of your peers will acquit you because they too share your disdain for red light / traffic cameras, and you may well be right, but still, I would have advised against the post (then again I would have advised against the whole stupid, yes I called it “stupid”, idea). You, my friend…
Memo to the Folks: Anything that you post on any social media is by its nature public. It is essentially an admission / confession and can be introduced into evidence as a statement against your interest in a subsequent legal proceeding. Once posted you lose any reasonable expectation of privacy so be careful (forewarned is forearmed.)
Memo to the Folks continued: When to comes to the subject of the internet it is important to think….
Memo to the Folks continued: Read “Haber’s Rules of Social Media # 1 – 5” by clicking here or watch a quick Webisode by clicking on the YouTube link below…
When it comes to the subject of “Cops, Courts and Constitutions” you should always have a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who is focused on serving your interests. While we can’t stop the cops from arresting you, as your legal counsel Michael A. Haber, PA will ensure that your rights are respected from the moment that representation begins and that any abuses which may have occurred beforehand are remedied.
At Michael A. Haber, P.A. “Its all about reasonable doubt”!
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THIS BLOG POST (AS ARE ALL OF HABERPA BLOG POSTS) IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT WHICH IS PRIMARILY DESIGNED, BY WAY OF REAL WORLD EXAMPLE, TO ASSIST THE GENERAL PUBLIC IN AVOIDING CONDUCT WHICH COULD FORESEEABLY RESULT IN ARREST AND PROSECUTION!
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