RIVERHEAD - The Centereach man who’s been dubbed the "Red-light Robin Hood" for tampering with red-light cameras in Suffolk is now facing upgraded charges.
Stephen Ruth, 43, appeared in Riverhead court Friday on a 17-count indictment of felony criminal mischief for allegedly damaging more than a dozen cameras at intersections in Suffolk. Prosecutors say he removed the covers of circuit boxes and snipped the wiring in 15 cameras in Coram, Centereach and Shirley, rendering them inoperable.
At court Friday, Ruth appeared to dispute the extent of the destruction. "I didn't damage any cameras, I just cut a couple of wires," he told reporters.
But the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office says Ruth's actions amounted to $85,000 in damage. Prosecutors also allege that he cut down a pole that was supporting a red-light camera in Coram back in January.
It's not the first time that Ruth has been in trouble with the law over the cameras. He was arrested and charged with tampering with two cameras after he posted a video on social media last August. The clip showed him using an extension rod to push the cameras away from their intersection vantage points.
Ruth says he stands by his actions. ""The cameras are illegal and unconstitutional, and we are going to win. That's it," he says.
Ruth is due back in court on Aug. 11. He could face up to seven years in jail if convicted.