New York Subway Jumper Gets Seven Years in Prison
An attempt to save a little cash on train fare turned out to be a very expensive mistake for one man in New York City.
Ruben Sanabria, 37, was sentenced to eight years in prison this month, with an additional 3 1/2 years probation, after he tried to carry a loaded .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistol into a 14th Street train station.
Police spotted Sanabria when he hopped the turnstile to get into a Port Authority subway station with access to the PATH train that runs between Newark, N.J., and Manhattan. The fare for the train is $2.25.
According to a press release from the district attorney, when the police stopped the fare beater/gunman, he reached for his waistband. The cops told him to put his hands on the wall but Sanabria ran instead and tried to ditch the firearm. No good — the cops got their man and their man went to jail.
“This defendant illegally carried a loaded semi-automatic firearm into a public transportation system used by thousands of people every day,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. “The officers who apprehended him did so at great personal risk.”
Guns and Turnstiles
New York City has famously stringent gun laws, with permits difficult to obtain and criminal penalties for unlawful possession extremely harsh.
“New York is a ‘May-Issue’ state, meaning the licensing official (usually a local police chief or sheriff) has discretion to issue a license or permit to possess handguns, or carry a concealed firearm,” writes criminal defense attorney John J. Carney, from the Law Offices of John J. Carney, on his blog. “New York City, which is practically a ‘No-Issue’ jurisdiction for carry pistol licenses, has even more stringent gun laws, including those regulating guns kept at home, making it almost impossible for ordinary citizens to carry guns in New York City.”
A conviction for carrying a loaded handgun carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years, with a potential of up to 15 years behind bars.
Of course, people who do violate the permit law make themselves a lot easier to catch when they draw attention to themselves in other ways, even if it’s something as mundane as hopping a turnstile.
Subway jumping has been on the rise in recent years and there is little that workers can do about it, an anonymous MTA conductor answering questions on Reddit explained. “Many stations no longer have station agents (not that they could do anything about fare beaters anyway, since only NYPD can enforce it) which gives customers a more ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude,” the conductor said. “Plus now that every exit has an emergency gate, customers will wait for someone to exit through it and then hold it open to get in.
“I see fare beaters every single day,” he said. “I do everything within my power to close the doors on their face.”
However, as Sanabria learned the hard way, the cops do catch some turnstile jumpers in the act — and more woe to them if they were committing another crime like illegal gun possession at the same time.