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Court Rules on Alleged Computer Thefts

By Jeremy Hylton
and Matt Mucklo

Staff Reporters

Four MIT students were issued continuances in Middlesex Third District Court on charges relating to an incident on May 21, when several students were allegedly caught stealing $20,000 of computers from an Athena cluster in the basement of the Alfred P. Sloan Building (Building E52).

Charges were dropped against a fifth defendant, Christopher B. Council '94.

All five defendants were charged with night time breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony, possession of burglarious tools, and wanton destruction of property over $250.

The breaking and entering charge is a felony that carries a 5-year prison sentence, according to the Jill Reilly, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney's office.

Four defendants, Christopher B. Anderson G, John D. Santiago '94, Jose E. Ledesma '94, and John D. MacKenzie G, admitted that sufficient facts existed for a guilty verdict. The continuance motion says that the court, "upon hearing a recitation of the facts of the above-numbered complaints, would be warranted in entering a finding of guilt."

However, they plead not guilty and were issued continuances that will prevent a guilty verdict from being entered if they have no further legal problems for a set period of time.

Anderson was issued a 2-year continuance on July 15. Ledesma was issued a 2-year continuance on Aug. 5. Santiago was issued a 1-year continuance on Sept. 17. And MacKenzie was issued a 2-year continuance on Sept. 22.

Under the terms of the continuances, if a defendant is involved in any other criminal activity during the specified period, the original case could be returned to court. In addition, each of the defendants waived all rights to a trial by jury and to an appeal if the case should be reopened.

At the time of the incident, Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin said that she would also request disciplinary action within MIT.

However, Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs, could neither confirm nor deny that any internal disciplinary action had been taken.

Earlier report in error

In an earlier article ["5 Caught Stealing Computers," May 28], The Tech incorrectly reported that all five students involved were arrested. In fact, only Santiago was arrested on May 21.

The Tech attributed its reporting of the arrests to a police report. The Cambridge Police Department arrest report only names Santiago.

Though the police report does not name the other defendants, they were all arraigned in district court. Anderson was arraigned on June 4, and MacKenzie on June 3. The court record did not indicate the date of Ledesma's arraignment.

The district attorney dropped charges against Council, but no specific reason was indicated. Unlike the other four defendants, however, Council is not listed in the student telephone directory or in the Institute's electronic directory.

In May, Glavin told The Tech that the Campus Police caught five students stealing computers from the E52 Athena cluster at about 3:48 a.m. The Cambridge Police Department arrest report, however, said that only two suspects were observed removing computers.

The Campus Police arrest report on the incident was unavailable.

According to the Cambridge police report, a basement door had been opened and the alarm taped so that the contact was not broken. Three computers and keyboards and other equipment were missing.

The arresting officer from the Cambridge police wrote, "I arrived on the scene and observed two males walking out of basement of E52 with computers."

The officer ordered both men to halt. One suspect fled on foot towards Ames Street and escaped, but Santiago lay on the ground and was arrested. The report also said, "Area searched for other suspects in the bushes with negative results."

Defendants apologize

Ledesma provided a statement yesterday that read, in part, "I am ashamed by my conduct on May 21, 1993 and publicly ask the MIT community for its forgiveness and understanding," he said.

"I also intend to do anything that I can to prove to the MIT community and to society in general that I am genuinely remorseful for what I have done and that it will never again be repeated in any context or under any circumstance," Ledesma continued.

MacKenzie claimed that his court plea was "no admission of guilt of any sort." It was "simply a way to resolve the charges in a relatively inexpensive and timely manner," he said.

Santiago said, "I am truly sorry for my actions. I cannot go back in time and change them. I can only offer testimony to the suffering I have incurred upon myself, my friends, and my faimly."

"It has been, and it will be, very difficult recovering from this ordeal because I will always carry a guilt that has permanently affected my character, my behavior, and my judgement," Santiago continued.

Anderson declined to comment.