Former MBTA Subcontractor Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to State Prison in Connection with Selling MBTA Passes
Two Other Individuals Plead Guilty, Sentenced In Connection to Scheme
BOSTON – A former employee of an MBTA subcontractor and two others have pleaded guilty and been sentenced in connection with their roles in selling and distributing millions of dollars worth of illegal MBTA monthly passes directly to riders, Attorney General Martha Coakley and the MBTA announced today.
Andres Townes, age 28, and Gloria Escobar, age 28, both of Revere, and Joceline Townes, age 42, of Attleboro pleaded guilty today in Essex Superior Court.
Andres Townes pleaded guilty to charges of Larceny over $250, Conspiracy to Commit Larceny over $250, Conspiracy to Commit Receiving Stolen Property (3 counts), and Making False Entries in Corporate Books. After the plea was entered, Essex Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead sentenced Andres Townes to three years to three years and one day State Prison, with two years of probation to run concurrent with his sentence.
Escobar pleaded guilty to charges of Larceny over $250 and Conspiracy to Commit Larceny over $250. After the plea was entered, Essex Superior Court Judge Whitehead sentenced Escobar to two years in the House of Correction. Joceline Townes pleaded guilty to charges of Receiving Stolen Property Over $250 and Conspiracy to Commit Receiving Stolen Property. After accepting her plea, Judge Whitehead sentenced Joceline Townes to 3 months in the House of Correction.
“These defendants were part of an elaborate scheme in which millions of dollars worth of illegal monthly passes were sold to riders in what we consider the biggest fare evasion scheme in MBTA history,” said AG Coakley. “Today’s outcome is the result of a collaborative effort between our office, the MBTA and the Massachusetts State Police and we would like to thank those agencies for their role in detecting and investigating this scheme.”
“I would like to thank Transit Police, State Police, and the Attorney General’s office for the thorough investigation that resulted in today’s successful conclusion to this case,” said Acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis. “But I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the alert Commuter Rail conductor, who spotted a pass that didn’t look right to him, and immediately reported it.”
The investigation began in March 2011 after an alert conductor on the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail (MBCR) noticed a pass that appeared different in color. Further investigation showed that despite opening electronic gates, the printed serial number in the MBTA database did not show the card ever being activated. The MBTA soon discovered hundreds of similar passes in use by passengers. 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”). Cubic is an independent vendor which handles the sale and fulfillment of MBTA passes purchased on-line and over the telephone.
Andres Townes was an employee of Cubic and had access to the secure room that houses the machine used to produce MBTA tickets. Townes manipulated the machine, producing authentic MBTA passes that were not recorded by the MBTA’s central computer system as having been activated. Escobar worked with Townes to sell these fraudulent passes to passengers at a discounted rate, often through Craigslist, with no revenue going back to the MBTA. Joceline Townes also entered into an agreement with Andres Townes and agreed to share the profits of the illegal ticket sales with him.
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 sold by the defendants at a discounted rate with no revenue going back to the MBTA. Andres Townes produced more than 20,000 fraudulent passes worth millions of dollars.
Andres Townes and Gloria Escobar were indicted on July 28 2011 in connection with their roles in the scheme. Andres Townes was also indicted on November 16, 2011, on charges of Conspiracy to Commit Receiving Stolen Property (3 counts). A Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments against Joceline Townes on November 16, 2011. All three defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced today in Essex Superior Court.
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 prosecuted 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. This case was investigated by MBTA detectives, personnel in the MBTA’s Automated Fare Collection Department, state police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, Director Sallyann Nelligan and financial investigator Taylor Glynn, both of AG Coakley’s Financial Investigation Division.