May 28, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
MTA EMPLOYEE SENT TO JAIL FOR STEALING OVER $100,000
Joseph Curran, Jr. announced the sentencing yesterday of Pauline
L. Cole, 40, on her conviction for stealing over $100,000 from the
Maryland Transit Administration for whom she worked as a secreatary.
Judge Paul Smith sentenced Cole, who has since resigned from the
MTA, to five years in prison with all but 90 days suspended, to
be followed by five years of probation. He also ordered her to make
restitution to the State and the private insurance companies that
were defrauded in the scheme, at the rate of $350 per month. At
the defendant's request, the judge will permit her to serve her
90 days on weekends, and he gave her until June 6th to surrender.
The State recommended a sentence of two years to serve, and opposed
the requests to serve the sentence on weekends and to delay surrender.
had earlier pled guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy and theft
for her role in the massive insurance fraud scheme that she and
a co-defendant, Deitra Sharp, engaged in while employed by the MTA.
Cole, of the 4000 block of Nicholas Avenue in Baltimore, conspired
with Sharp, of the 2000 block of Edison Highway in Baltimore, to
steal insurance checks issued by the MTA and other insurance entities,
over a four-year period between 1997 and 2001, when their scheme
was an adjuster in the MTA's Transit Insurance Group, responsbile
for the processing of personal injury and property damage claims
made by individuals against the MTA as a result of accidents involving
MTA buses and other vehicles. In 1997, Sharp and Cole concoted a
scheme whereby Sharp would "add" fictitious passengers
to the vehicles involved in such accidents, creating bogus claims
in the names of relatives and friends, and then approve the claims
for payment. Once the fraudulent checks were issued, Sharp gave
them to Cole to cash. Cole ran the checks through her invalid mother's
bank account over which she had power of attorney. On other occasions,
Cole would cash some of these checks - which ranged in amount from
a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars apiece - at a check
cashing facilities around the City.
the thefts were discovered, both defendants resigned, an internal
audit was commenced and a criminal investigation was initiated.
That investigation was conducted jointly by the Criminal Investigations
Division of the Attorney General's Office and the Maryland State
only did the defendants steal money frm the MTA in this fashion,
but they also defrauded the State Treasurer, the Maryland Automobile
Insurance Fund ("MAIF") and four private insurance companies
to whom they had also submitted fraudulent claims in the names of
non-existent passengers. The private insurance companies victimized
by the scheme were GEICO, Nationwide, Penn National, State Farm
and Allstate. After an extensive and exhaustive audit, it was determined
that the MTA lost a total of $75,126.03 at the hands of the defendants,
while the State Treasurer paid out an additional $17,710.63 in bogus
claims. The losses of MAIF and the five private insurance companies
totaled $16,350.00. The total theft amount, comprising 92 fraudulent
checks, was $109,186.66.
stolen money was spent on lottery tickets and personal expenses,
such as hair and nail appointments, vehicles, restaurants and cell
co-defendant Sharp is to be sentenced on Jun 6th by Judge Wanda