Foxboro Woman Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Jail in Connection with Selling Illegal MBTA Passes in Biggest Fare Evasion Scheme in MBTA History
Illegal Monthly Passes Worth Millions Produced And Sold To Riders
SALEM – A Foxboro woman has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to jail for her role in an extensive scheme involving the production and sale of millions of dollars’ worth of illegal MBTA monthly passes, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Susan Gillis, age 49, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Essex Superior Court to charges of Receiving Stolen Property over $250 (3 counts).
After her plea was entered, Judge David A. Lowy sentenced Gillis to two-and-a-half years in the House of Correction, with one year to serve and the balance suspended for a probationary period of three years.
At various times starting in November 2007, Gillis, Alex Saunders, and Joceline Townes, each received stolen tickets from Andres Townes, an employee of an MBTA subcontractor, who was working with a female associate, Gloria Escobar.
In June 2012, Andres Townes, Escobar, Saunders, and Joceline Townes pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme. Andres Townes was sentenced to three years to three years and one day in state prison, with two years of probation to run concurrent with his sentence. Escobar was sentenced to two years in the House of Correction. Alex Saunders was sentenced to eighteen months in the House of Correction. Joceline Townes was sentenced to 3 months in the House of Correction.
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 sold by the defendants at a discounted rate with no revenue going back to the MBTA. As a result of this scheme, the defendants 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 handled 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 and were later sold by the defendants for profit.
Investigation revealed that Andres Townes produced more than 20,000 fraudulent passes worth millions of dollars. Some of the passes produced were 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.
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.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Gina Masotta of AG Healey’s Public Integrity Division and Assistant Attorney General David Rubin. It 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 of AG Healey’s Financial Investigation Division and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab.