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5 Caught Stealing Computers

By Katherine Shim
News Editor

Early last Friday, Campus Police caught five MIT students allegedly in the process of stealing $20,000 worth of computer equipment from a computer facility in the basement of the Alfred P. Sloan Building (Building E52), said Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin.

According to the police report, the five students are Christopher B. Anderson G, John D. MacKenzie '93, Christopher B. Council '94, John K. Dorton Santiago '94, and Jose E. Ledesma '94.

Each is charged with "breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony, wanton destruction of $250 worth of property, and possession of burglarious tools," Glavin said.

Their cases will be heard in the Cambridge court system in late August, said Dean for Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith.

"We are also requesting internal disciplinary action" within MIT, Glavin said.

"These people will be tried through the normal court process. They have broken state laws -- breaking and entering, destruction of property -- these are all state laws," Glavin added.

Friday morning break-in

"On May 21 at 3:48 a.m., we received a call from Physical Plant," Glavin said. "A supervisor had noticed some suspicious activity by the computer cluster" in the basement of the Sloan Building, she said.

Glavin refused to give the names of the officers who responded to the scene, the Physical Plant worker who alerted the police, or the names of any other potential witnesses.

"Since the case will go to court, I don't want to discuss who the officers are who were at the scene, or how many witnesses we have," Glavin said.

"When we got to the scene," Glavin said, "we found five students who were essentially in the process of stealing approximately $20,000 worth of computer equipment," she said.

"We arrested one student immediately at the scene and have subsequently arrested the other four," Glavin added.

The student who was arrested at the scene, whose name was not disclosed, was arraigned that night. His hearing will be sometime in late August, Smith said.

"Charges were brought against the other four on Tuesday," Smith added. "I don't know the date for their hearing, but my guess is that it will probably be sometime in late August as well."

The Institute is also considering what action to take against the accused students. MacKenzie, a senior, "will not graduate," Randolph said. "A hearing was made about that a few days ago."

"Institute policy is that if a serious disciplinary matter is under consideration, then a degree will be withheld," Smith added.

A decision on whether the other four students will be allowed to continue study at MIT will be made after their hearings in court, Randolph said.

Cluster contained Macs, PCs

Anne L. Drazen, director of the Sloan computer facility, refused to describe the security of the cluster or if additional security measures will be taken to secure the computers.

"I really do not want to talk to the press. It would violate the security of my labs if the MIT community found out that my labs exist and what they are about," Drazen said.

Oliver Chow '93, who uses the facility, said, "The computer cluster there has PCs, Macs -- Quadras, Classics, IIsi's, Mac II's, IBM PS/2's, and older AT&T machines. There are a lot of computers there, about 30-40 Macs and 20-30 PCs."

"The facility is used by undergraduates and Sloan MBA students. It is accessed by a code that is made known to Sloan people, and the Sloan building is kept open all night," Chow said. Computers in the cluster are secured down to the desks and "I would say that probably the computers are alarmed -- it seems like there is a cord that if you cut it, an alarm would go off," Chow said.

Smith would not discuss whether any of the accused students have previous criminal records. But last November, then-Dean for Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey asked six MacGregor residents to leave the dormitory to prevent the recurrence of a variety of "inappropriate behaviors" including harassment, intimidation, harassing phone calls, and throwing eggs and water balloons. These six students included Council, Ledesma, and Dorton Santiago.

In December, Tewhey ruled that Ledesma and Dorton Santiago must move out of MacGregor. Council was given a warning but was allowed to stay in the dormitory.