BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Maryland’s attorney general launches a criminal investigation into the Maryland Transit Administration. Millions of dollars may have been misspent in deals made off the books.
Christie Ileto explains it could result in criminal charges.READ MORE: Baltimore County Releases New Opioid Overdose Data Dashboard
The audit found that in one instance an MTA employee steered a $200,000 contract to their spouse’s company. It’s that kind of negligent behavior that has the Attorney General Office now investigating.
A 25-page audit details the back room deals between Maryland Transit Administration and Towson University’s Division of Economic and Community Outreach (DECO).
Not playing by the rules cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
“Towson would end up being a conduit for the Maryland Transit Administration to hire individuals that otherwise would have had to go through a procurement process,” said Thomas Barnickel, legislative auditor.
Auditors say the agency that runs buses in Baltimore shelled out money, but it can’t even show it was getting what it paid for.
“It’s broken and in desperate need of repair,” said Noel Isama, Common Cause director of transparency. “Citizens can’t trust their government if they’re wasting money like this.”READ MORE: FDA Expected To Approve J&J, Moderna Covid Booster Shots, ‘Mix and Match’ Doses
More than $10 million—gone; some $768,000 unaccounted for, a $629,000 tab to DECO that wasn’t even in the contract, $200,000 paid to a company owned by an employee’s spouse.
“Money that could have gone to schools, money that could have gone to fix roads, money that could actually have gone to properly train folks to do their jobs better is being misspent,” said Isama.
MTA calls it completely unacceptable and totally inconsistent with its responsibly to serve citizens of Maryland.
MTA says it has since made changes, firing the employee in charge, terminating the contract and amending its procedures. But is that enough?
“If we don’t actually fix systematically what’s going on with the procurement process, problems will keep coming back again and taxpayer dollars will continue to be wasted,” said Isama.
Tax dollars Maryland right now can’t afford to mismanage.
The audit looked at years between 2010 and 2013. Towson University’s role was addressed in a 2013 audit.MORE NEWS: Anne Arundel County Public Schools Facing Staffing Shortages
The Attorney General’s Office confirms to WJZ that is has the referral, but will not comment on the case.