For Immediate Release - June 15, 2010

General Manager of Regional Transit Authority Arrested, Arraigned for Stealing Large Amounts of Cash From Buses

HAVERHILL - The general manager of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) has been arrested 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 arrested today at his place of employment by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office. He was then transported to Haverhill District Court where he was arraigned on the charge of Larceny over $250.

"We allege that over a period of several months, Mr. Whittaker abused his position of authority to steal money from the MVRTA, resulting in a significant loss of public money," AG Coakley said. "I want to thank the Massachusetts State Police for their excellent work in this case which resulted in today's arrest."

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 months. 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 their money room. The bus fare is then counted and compared to the on-board collection system readouts and subsequently deposited. Authorities conducted 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.

Today, Whittaker was arrested at his place of employment and arraigned in Haverhill District Court in front of District Court Judge Patricia Dowling where he pled not guilty and was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail. He is due back in court on July 8, 2010, for a pre-trial conference.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Christopher Kelly and Marina Moriarty for Attorney General Coakley's Corruption and Fraud Division and was investigated by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office.

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