For Immediate Release - November 16, 2011

Four Indicted in Connection with Selling Illegal MBTA Passes

Millions of Dollars Worth of Illegal Monthly Passes Allegedly Sold to Riders

BOSTON – A former employee of an MBTA subcontractor and three others have been indicted for their alleged roles in selling and distributing millions of dollars worth of illegal MBTA monthly passes directly to riders, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

A Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments today against the four defendants on charges linked to the largest fare evasion scheme in MBTA history.  The defendants are charged as follows:

Andres Townes, age 27, of Revere:

  • Conspiracy to Commit Receiving Stolen Property (3 counts)

Alex Saunders, age 28, of Beverly:

  • Receiving Stolen Property Over $250
  • Conspiracy to Commit Receiving Stolen Property

Joceline Townes, age 41, of Attleboro:

  • Receiving Stolen Property Over $250
  • Conspiracy to Commit Receiving Stolen Property

Susan Gillis, age 46, of Foxboro:

  • Receiving Stolen Property Over $250 (5 counts)
  • Conspiracy to Commit Receiving Stolen Property

“We allege that these defendants conspired to illegally sell passes to the public for profit while defrauding the Commonwealth,” AG Coakley said. “Corruption of this nature deceives consumers and undermines the taxpayers.  Our investigation with the MBTA into this matter remains ongoing.”

Andres Townes was previously indicted on July 28, on charges of Larceny over $250, Conspiracy to Commit Larceny over $250, and Making False Entries in Corporate Books in connection with his alleged role to illegally produce and sell the MBTA passes.

Authorities allege that at various times starting in November 2007, Saunders, Gillis, and Joceline Townes, individually entered into an agreement with Andres Townes to sell MBTA tickets that he provided.  According to authorities, the defendants agreed to split the profits of the illegal ticket sales evenly with Andres Townes.  

The Attorney General’s Office began an investigation into the production and sale of illegal MBTA passes in March 2011, after an alert conductor noticed a pass that appeared different in color purportedly purchased by a rider on Craigslist.  Further investigation showed that, while the ticket was authentic, the MBTA database had no record of it being activated and the MBTA had not received payment for it.  The MBTA then discovered that more than 400 of these fraudulent passes, worth more than $70,000, were being used by passengers in March of 2011 alone.

According to authorities, the defendants advertised the illegal tickets on Craigslist and sold them either in person or through the mail to MBTA riders.  The stolen tickets, valued up to $250 each, were allegedly sold by the defendants at a discounted rate with no revenue going back to the MBTA.  As a result of this scheme, the defendants allegedly paid Andres Townes thousands of dollars each month based on their individual ticket sales.  

Investigators discovered that all the stolen passes had been activated in Beverly, Massachusetts by a machine owned by the MBTA and used by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. (“Cubic”), an independent vendor which handles the sale and fulfillment of MBTA passes purchased on-line and over the telephone.  According to authorities, as an employee of Cubic, Andres Townes manipulated the machine to produce authentic MBTA passes that were not recorded by the MBTA’s central computer system as having been activated, which were later sold by the defendants for profit.

Prosecutors allege that Andres Townes produced more than 20,000 fraudulent passes worth millions of dollars.  At least $2 million dollars worth of those passes were never in service because the passes had been dated and activated for use as far in the future as November 2012.  

Consumers should be aware that the MBTA does not sell passes through Craigslist, private individuals or at a discounted rate.  The MBTA also does not sell passes for use in future months.  If passengers hold a pass purchased this way, they may hold a pass that was fraudulently produced.  Passengers who are concerned that they may have a fraudulent pass should contact the MBTA Transit Police at 617-222-1160.

Today, a Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments against Andres Townes, Joceline Townes, Saunders, and Gillis.  The defendants will be arraigned in Essex Superior Court at a later date.  Andres Townes remains held on $15,000 cash bail.

The investigation was initially conducted by the MBTA and MBTA Transit Police.  It was then referred to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.  Due to Cubic’s location in Essex County, the investigation was brought to the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division. 

Assistant Attorney General Gina Masotta is prosecuting this case along with AAG Jim O’Brien, Chief of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division, and AAG Edward Beagan, Deputy Chief of the Public Integrity Division.  MBTA detectives, personnel in the MBTA’s Automated Fare Collection Department, state police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and financial investigator Taylor Glynn and Deputy Director Sallyann Nelligan of AG Coakley’s Financial Investigation Division under the supervision of Division Director Paul Stewart are also working on this active and ongoing criminal investigation.

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