Staffer charged in USTA video equipment theft

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A worker who reported the burglary of more than $500,000 worth of video equipment from a CBS Sports trailer outside the National Tennis Center to police Sunday morning was arrested on charges he committed the robbery the night before, police and network officials said.

The heist came as CBS was preparing for its coverage of this month’s U.S. Open tennis tournament, which begins with a preview Sunday.

Police recovered nine digital video recorders from a Long Island man who told them that a CBS Sports contract employee tried to sell them to him early Sunday morning in Nassau County, according to a complaint filed in Queens Criminal Court.

Joseph Gerardi, who worked for Bexel, a Burbank, Calif.-based broadcast rental and engineering company contracted by CBS Sports, was charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, burglary and falsely reporting an incident, police said.

He pleaded not guilty in an arraignment in Queens Criminal Court Monday and was being held on $1,500 bail, said a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. A further court date was set for Sept. 6.

Police at the scene in Flushing Meadows Corona Park Sunday afternoon said the nine digital video machines were taken from a trailer just outside the parking lot at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The trailer is part of an enclosed complex of six containers that house business offices and electronic television equipment.

The machines were valued at approximately $60,000 each, said Ken Aagaard, senior vice president for operations at CBS Sports.

Gerardi, who finished work about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, returned to the trailer at around 8:20 p.m. and removed the video equipment, the complaint said. At around 5 a.m. Sunday, he delivered the machines to 19 Vine Court Carle Place in Nassau County, where he tried to pawn them, the court papers said.

He then returned to work and filed a police report at 8:20 a.m. in which he stated he arrived at work around 7:30 that morning and discovered the video equipment missing from the trailer, the complaint said.

“It’s the first time something of this magnitude has happened to us,” Aagaard said in a telephone interview Sunday afternoon.

He said the theft occurred despite the presence of a 24-hour security patrol.

Security officers stationed at the trailer Sunday afternoon declined to comment on the robbery.

“I’m just really happy that we finally got it resolved,” Aagaard said in a telephone interview following the arrest.

Jackie Blake, a Bexel spokeswoman, and Robert Knightly, Gerardi’s court-appointed attorney, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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