A Throggs Neck woman who was arrested at the Buhre Avenue IRT station of the #6 line for leaving through an emergency exit and then refusing to provide information to a police officer, is now blaming Councilman Jimmy Vacca for her troubles, despite ample evidence to the contrary.
While Vacca denies any involvement in the Transit Police sting operation, Cynthia Paciullo, the arrested straphanger, insists that her arresting officer told her the operation was setup at Vacca’s request.
“Apparently, one of the transit officers knew my name and said I was responsible for the operation,” Vacca said. “I didn’t tell the police to do anything. I have known the person’s family for years. Her brother was one of my best friends.”
Paciullo was arriving home from work on Friday, September 12 when she went through a much-abused emergency exit gate at the station.
Paciullo said that officers detained her and when she refused to give them her Social Security number in front of a crowd of others riders, she was arrested.
“The arresting officer said ‘Councilman Vacca sent us,’” Paciullo said. “I honestly do believe that he sent the police officers there. Most councilpeople don’t take the subway to work. This was a power trip for him.”
However, the original request for more police action at the station was initiated at Community Board 10’s March district service cabinet meeting, and has absolutely nothing to do with Vacca.
“Our contention was to have the emergency exit open only when the token booth operator opens it from inside the booth,” said Patrick Caruso, of Community Board 10. “When I go to the Middletown Road station while on official business, I see young people avoid the fare by going through the emergency gate instead of going through the turnstile.”
Apparently, the order given to the Transit police to look into the matter was misconstrued, and instead of going after fare-beaters, they went after those using the emergency gate to exit the station.
“Those gates were retrofitted with alarms for emergencies, and we do not want people to go through them unless there is an emergency,” said James Anyansi, MTA-NYC Transit spokesman. “There are panic bars that are triggered when the gate is opened.”
Police representatives were quick to point out that Paciullo did break the law by exiting through the gate, something she does not dispute.
“There is no way to confirm or deny what was said during the sting operation,” said Sergeant Mike Wysokoski, spokesman for the NYPD. “It is her word against the arresting officer.”
Wysokoski added that he thinks Paciullo was not being asked for her Social Security number, but some other form of identification.
“For some reason, the police needed to prove their point by writing summonses,” Paciullo stated. “I think the whole operation was a case of entrapment.”