Bus Driver Pleads Guilty to Stealing Hundreds of Bus Passes in Black Market Scheme

March 24, 2000

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Mass Transit Administration (MTA) employee James Russell Heath, Jr., 33, of the 3800 block of Elkador Road in Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty in the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City to one count of felony theft. Mr. Heath was employed as an MTA bus driver. The Honorable John R. Hargrove, Jr. sentenced Heath to Probation Before Judgement. Heath was placed on three years supervised probation and ordered to pay $3,039.00 in restitution.

According to the statement of facts read into the record, the defendant was involved in the theft and resale of large quantities of bus passes. Investigation by the MTA Police and the Maryland State Police revealed that he was using the computerized fare box in a given bus to print out, without authorization, numerous $3/day bus passes and transferring these to black market ticket dealers. These dealers would then illegally sell the passes on the street and Heath would receive a percentage of the money collected. Preliminary information concerning the scheme was received by MTA Police through informants. Analysis of the MTA's computerized records, generated by the fare boxes on all buses, quantified with precision the number of fraudulent passes.

"This individual was in a position of trust, which he chose to abuse," said Attorney General Curran. "Maryland will continue to investigate such corruption and prosecute dishonest employees who attempt to profit at the taxpayer's expense. We commend the MTA's vigilance in monitoring its operations."

Five other MTA bus drivers have been charged with Felony Theft under similar circumstances. Trial dates have been set in May.

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