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Illicit Transit Worker Claims Mental Defect

Darius McCollum has been arrested for impersonating a transit worker 30 times
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2018 7:50 PM CST
Illicit Transit Worker Claims Mental Defect
FILE - This Nov. 13, 2015 file photo shows Darius McCollum during his arraignment in Brooklyn criminal court in New York. McCollum, now 52, who has posed as a transit worker and was arrested 30 times for stealing buses and trains is taking a plea deal that will send him to a mental institution.   (Jesse Ward/The Daily News via AP, Pool, File)

A man who has been arrested 30 times for impersonating a New York City transit worker, stealing buses and trains and driving their routes, has taken a plea deal that's sending him to a mental health facility, not prison, for his latest escapade. Darius McCollum had been charged with criminal impersonation and grand larceny in his most recent arrest, a 2015 case in which he was caught behind the wheel of a Greyhound bus, the AP reports. On Monday, he said he was not criminally responsible by reason of mental disease or defect. He will be evaluated by psychiatrists, who will determine whether he is dangerously mentally ill, mentally ill, or not mentally ill. If he is deemed dangerous, he will be confined in a secure facility for at least six months. If not, he could be sent to a clinic, where he would be able to see his mother.

McCollum, 52, has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which often includes repetitive behaviors and a difficulty with impulse control. He is obsessed with buses and trains. He has memorized every subway line and every stop and can recite them on request. He knows mechanical details about how the subway trains and buses work, and he often knows how to fix problems. McCollum often would dress up as a transit worker just to be around trains. He wanted to work for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but transit officials have long said they would not hire someone who had stolen a train, as he did at age 15 from Penn Station. Doctors who evaluated McCollum in his most recent case found he lacked the ability to understand the problem with his behavior.

(More MTA stories.)

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