ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Two Metro workers were charged Thursday with stealing thousands of dollars — possibly hundreds of thousands — in coins from fare machines, with one of the workers allegedly using the proceeds to buy massive quantities of instant lottery tickets.
Horace McDade, 58, of Bowie, Md., and John V. Haile, 54, of Woodbridge, Va., were arrested late Wednesday. Federal prosecutors allege the two worked as a team to systematically pilfer from the transit agency’s malfunctioning fare machines. McDade is a revenue technician, and Haile is a Metro police officer who provided security for the money transports.
Metro Thursday announced that both men have been suspended and that it is launching a review to determine how the thefts occurred and can be prevented in the future.
The investigation began after a source reported that Haile routinely pulled up in a Jaguar to a store in Woodbridge with $500 bags of coins to buy lottery tickets. Lottery records show Haile won $32,000 in 2011, and that only counts winning tickets of $600 or more. A court affidavit states that Haile had been doing so for three years, first starting with handfuls of $1 coins and eventually moving up to bags full of coins.
Lottery officials say Haile also had reported winnings of $17,000 in 2010, $8,400 in 2009 and $5,400 in 2008, again excluding winning tickets of less than $600. Lottery officials told police that Haile must have been buying “an extraordinary amount of tickets” to accumulate such winnings.
The investigation is still seeking to determine exactly how much money was stolen, but in the court affidavit, authorities say that Haile’s bank records show unexplained cash deposits of more than $150,000 since 2008.
The affidavit states that McDade, as a revenue technician, was assigned to emergency situations, replenishing fare machines that were empty and removing money from machines that were full. Haile would frequently change his police shifts from Metro’s “money train” — which goes from station to station to collect money from fare card machines — to emergency shifts so he could work with McDade.
After the investigation began, the two were placed under surveillance and seen multiple times deviating from their route to hide bags of coins underneath an overpass by the Courtyard Marriott in Alexandria, according to the affidavit.
“Each night, the Metro put its trust — and its money — in the hands of these two defendants, and these men are accused of ripping off thousands of dollars from the Metro and local taxpayers,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, whose office is prosecuting the case.
Metro’s police chief, Michael Taborn, said “we will not tolerate theft from Metro, and employees — especially law enforcement personnel — will be held accountable.”
McDade and Haile were scheduled to make initial appearances Thursday afternoon before a federal magistrate. It could not immediately be determined if the men had attorneys.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)