By WILLIAM LAMB, STAFF WRITER
A former Verizon technician racked up $220,000 in calls to sex chat numbers by tapping into the land lines of nearly 950 customers, authorities said Tuesday.
Joseph R. Vaccarelli, 45, of Nutley used customer accounts to make about 5,000 calls to sexually explicit 900 numbers lasting a combined 45,000 minutes, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said in a news release.
The calls were placed over the last 10 months from residential and commercial accounts in about 30 Bergen County municipalities, authorities and Verizon officials said.
Vaccarelli worked for 10 years as a Verizon facilities technician, installing telephone service and repairing damaged or faulty equipment, said Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman.
Vaccarelli resigned last month after Verizon officials told him he was the target of an internal investigation that began after several customers complained about unauthorized charges, Young said.
Bergen County authorities began a criminal investigation after they were contacted by Verizon’s security department.
“We’re saddened and, frankly, stunned that any Verizon employee would allegedly engage in this sort of behavior,” Young said.
Verizon is working with the affected customers to resolve any fraudulent or disputed charges, he said.
“We believe this was a highly isolated incident by an errant individual,” Young said. “It should not reflect on the overwhelming majority of our workforce, who bring pride and respect to their jobs every day.”
Vaccarelli was charged with theft by deception and theft of services, both second-degree crimes. He was due to be arraigned today in central municipal court in Hackensack.
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