Utica Man Charged in Connection to Damaging Multiple Emergency Communication and Cellular Towers

According to Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol and Utica Police Chief Mark Williams, a City of Utica man has been arrested for damaging multiple properties belonging to the Oneida County Office of Emergency Services and cellular tower companies including AT&T.

At the beginning of November, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and the Utica Police Department began receiving complaints of damage and frequency disruptions to radio and cellular towers within Oneida County. There were also damage reports in Herkimer County. These disruptions were very capable of causing significant danger to both first responders and those in need of help if radio communications or cellular services were interrupted for any length of time.

Most recently on December 3, the New Hartford Police Department and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office responded to National Grid located on Campion Road in the Town of New Hartford for reports of an unauthorized individual that scaled a fence and shut power off attempting to disrupt service to a cellular and communication tower. After attempting to shut the power off, the suspect fled the scene. During this investigation, a vehicle and suspect were identified. After a brief search, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Unit located and arrested Nathaniel Sergio, 38, at his residence in the City of Utica. Sergio was taken into custody and transported to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and was charged with Criminal Trespass, a class B misdemeanor and Criminal Tampering, a class A misdemeanor from this incident at National Grid. During Sergio’s interview with the Sheriff’s Office, he admitted to damaging and attempting to disrupt service at numerous towers within Oneida County and Herkimer County.

Sergio was also charged by the Sheriff’s Office with Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree, a class D felony, stemming from an incident which occurred at an Oneida County Office of Emergency Services radio tower located on Higby Road in the Town of New Hartford. On November 10th, damage was located at the radio tower which disrupted radio frequencies for emergency personnel.

After Sergio was processed at the Sheriff’s Office, he was arraigned at CAP Court at the Oneida County Jail for the Criminal Mischief 2nd degree, Criminal Trespass, and Criminal Tampering. He was then released on his own recognizance due to New York State’s Bail Reform laws which does not allow bail to be set on these charges even though these allegations could have severely impacted emergency communications for first responders.

After Sergio was arraigned and released, he was then transferred to the Utica Police Department for their investigation and charges stemming from damage done to several cellular and radio towers located within the City of Utica.

As previously mentioned, the Utica Police Department became involved in the investigation following reports of vandalism at several towers located on Lomond Place, Rutger Street, and Tilden Avenue in Utica. It was learned that significant damage in several locations had occurred at these properties over the last month further hampering the communication networks. So far in their investigation, the Utica Police Department has charged Sergio with Criminal Tampering in the first degree and Criminal Mischief in the second degree. Sergio was arraigned a short time ago on the Utica charges and was again released due to New York State’s Bail Reform laws.

In summary, the current charges by both the Sheriff’s Office and the Utica Police that Sergio is facing includes (2) counts of Criminal Mischief in the second degree, (2) counts of Criminal Tampering, and one count of Criminal Trespass – all of which he was released on his own recognizance as a result of New York State’s Bail Reform laws.

Both the Utica Police and the Sheriff’s Office are anticipating additional charges following the completion of the several remaining investigations that include damage to property and the disruptions of tower related services.

During the course of these incidents and investigations, additional assistance was provided by the New York State Police, the Whitestown Police Department and the New Hartford Police Department.