For Immediate Release - September 30, 2010

Former General Manager of Regional Transit Authority Indicted in Connection with Stealing Large Amounts of Cash from Vault

HAVERHILL - The former general manager of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) has been indicted in connection with allegedly stealing large amounts of money collected in bus fares from the agency's money room, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced today.

John Whittaker, age 47, of Methuen was indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury on the charge of Larceny over $250 (2 counts).

"We allege that Mr. Whittaker took advantage of his position of authority to steal money from the MVRTA over a period of several years," said AG Coakley. "This is a challenging economic climate and many public institutions are struggling to stay afloat. Our office will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute these crimes to ensure that public funds are protected."

Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office began an investigation of Whittaker's alleged activities after learning that a significant amount of money from bus fares the agency had collected was missing from weekly deposits over a period of several years. Whitaker was hired by the MVRTA in February 2007 as the general manager for their Haverhill location. The MVRTA operates several bus lines out of their headquarters in Haverhill. Bus operators collect fares using on-board collection systems that are emptied at the MVRTA offices at the end of each day into a vault in the money room. The bus fare is then counted and compared to the on-board collection system readouts and subsequently deposited. Authorities conducted video surveillance of the area and allege that during the time period in question Whittaker stole a significant amount of money from the vault in the agency's money room and used it for his own personal use.

An Essex County Grand Jury returned indictments against Whittaker late yesterday. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Essex Superior Court on October 13, 2010.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Christopher Kelly and Marina Moriarty, both of Attorney General Coakley's Corruption and Fraud Division, and was investigated by financial investigator Marc Pulli and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office.