Road to nowhere: Russian prison official allegedly steals highway, sells it for profit

Story highlights

  • Theft allegedly cost Russia $79,000
  • Alleged co-conspirators being investigated

(CNN)Public officials around the world are known to have stolen many things. But a highway? You must be kidding.

Yet that is precisely the allegation against a senior Russian prison official in northern Komi province.
Alexander Protopopov, who oversaw the Federal Penitentiary Service in Komi, stands accused of unlawfully allowing the dismantling and removal of more than 7,000 concrete slabs that covered a 30-mile (50 km) stretch of a highway and selling them, Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Charges of embezzlement

The illegal activity took place between June 2014 and August 2015, costing the Russian Federation 6 million rubles -- about $79,000 -- in damages, according to investigators.
Protopopov was arrested Wednesday and faces charges of embezzlement of entrusted public property using his official position, according to the statement.
Unsurprisingly, Protopopov is not believed to have removed the 7,000 concrete slabs on his own. Other local officials are also suspected of conspiring in the plot and are under investigation, according to prosecutors.
So why did the official steal the road? Well, investigators say, for personal profit, of course.