Thursday, November 17, 2011

4 People Indicted for Scamming MBTA Out of Millions

(SOURCE: Foxborough Patch - By Patricia Resende)

Four people including a Foxborough woman have been indicted by a Grand Jury for their involvement in selling millions worth of illegal MBTA monthly passes to riders, according to the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General.

Joceline Townes, 41, of Attleboro along with Susan Gillis, 46, of Foxborough, Andres Townes, 27 of Revere and Alex Saunders, 28 of Beverly were all charged with conspiracy to commit receiving stolen property.

Joceline Towns was also charged charged with receiving stolen property over $250. Gillis, who received the most charges of the group, was charged with five counts of receiving stolen property over $250.

Three of the four indicted will be arraigned in Essex Superior Court at a later date.  Andres Townes remains held on $15,000 cash bail.

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

Authorities say that Saunders, Gillis, and Joceline Townes, individually entered into an agreement during different times since November 2007 to sell MBTA tickets provided by Andres Townes. The crew split the profits from the illegal sales, according to Coakley's office.  Prosecutors allege that Andres Townes produced more than 20,000 fraudulent passes worth millions of dollars and that at least $2 million 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.

The investigation began after a conductor noticed the color of a pass that looked odd. Further investigation into the card 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. It was then that MBTA authorities realized that more than 400 of those passes, worth more than $70,000, were being used by passengers in March of 2011 alone.

The tickets were being advertised on Craigslist, according to authorities. For Andres Townes' role in the plan, he allegedly received thousands of dollars each month based on the crew's sales of tickets.

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

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