A New York man who identifies himself as the “Red Light Robin Hood” pleaded not guilty Friday to a 17-count indictment accusing him of cutting the wires of more than a dozen red light cameras in Suffolk County.
This modern-day digital do-gooder has no apologies and wants a jury trial.
Stephen Ruth, who remains free on bail, was arrested in April shortly after he told a CBS affiliate that he was the culprit and that he dismantled the cameras “in order to save lives.” He said the county shortened the yellow light duration from 5 seconds to 3 seconds in a bid to make more money.
He’s accused of 17 felonies and faces a maximum seven-year prison sentence if convicted on all the charges. He pleaded not guilty Friday in a local court and wants to go to trial for snipping the wires on as many as 16 red light cameras on intersections on Route 25 between Coram and Centereach.
“They call it a crime.
I call it saving lives,” he told the affiliate. “I never hid from my actions.
I believe in what I’m doing, and I’m only trying to save lives.”
A Suffolk County study concluded in April that about half the intersections with red-light cameras have seen an uptick in accidents following the installation of cameras in 2010, while other intersections saw a drop.
This isn’t the first time Ruth has gotten into hot water with the authorities. He was arrested in August for allegedly tampering with red light cameras by pointing them to the sky. He posted a video on YouTube, showing people how to do it and encouraging them to follow his path. “I’m going to show you how easy it is to take the power back,” Ruth says in the video. “It doesn’t take more than a minute, and the gratification is huge.”
The cameras are the subject of a new proposed class-action lawsuit representing those ticketed by the program.
The attorney on the case, Dave Raimondo, said yellow light times have been reduced to milk motorists for money, and drivers have to pay a $30 administrative fee per ticket.
“They just manipulate it slightly to make sure it is a little bit shorter to force red light running as a result create revenue for the county,” he said.
The county said it uses “the nationally accepted methodology” to calculate yellow and red light times.