Toronto police have made multiple arrests after allegations of fraud and theft at the Toronto Transit Commission.
Investigators said that the alleged crimes consisted of the employees using transit money to buy for themselves equipment that was “not used for any type of work conducted by the TTC.” They also alleged to have tried to set up a company to bid on transit work.
Four people were arrested and two more are sought, it was announced Wednesday. A spokesman for the transit agency said that two of the suspects were current employees. Three were retirees, including a former manager of the TTC revenue, security and equipment maintenance area. One has never been an employee of the agency.
The allegations sparked a blistering response from TTC head Andy Byford, who said it was “patently unfair” for honest employees at the transit agency to be tarred by such behaviour.
The lead detective could not immediately be reached late Wednesday afternoon but police said in a statement that the suspects face various charges, including fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000, possession and conspiracy. The current employees have been “suspended, for all intents and purposes,” TTC spokesman Brad Ross said in a phone interview.
Mr. Ross said that an anonymous tip last decade related to these allegations led to an investigation back in 2008/2009. It did not result in charges. More information came to light last fall and a renewed probe led to the charges announced Wednesday.
In response, Mr. Byford issued an extensive statement to staff detailing his disappointment and the additional measure that were being put in place.
“It is true that incidents like these are isolated and the systems we have in place to catch unethical and criminal behaviour work, as evidenced by today’s arrests and the laying of criminal charges,” he said. “But it is also true that when these incidents occur, the public’s trust in us is eroded.”
Mr. Byford said that a whistleblower policy and code of ethics would be developed, as well as mandatory ethics training for supervisory and management staff, all to be rolled out this fall. And he announced that the audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers would be retained, reporting directly to the CEO, to review “contract controls, signing authority and procurement practices and policies” at the transit agency. Their report will be made public, also this fall.
Mr. Ross said he could not discuss the possible scale of the losses, saying that people would have to wait for the auditor’s report.
“It’s disappointing when, you know, people who in a position of trust breach that trust and steal from the organization and ultimately from the people of Toronto,” Mr. Ross said.
Maciej Zych, a current TTC employee, was charged with possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. Another current employee, Steve Cuschieri, was charged with possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.
Former employee Amadeo Cuschieri, who had been a manager, faces the most charges: possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000, theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000, criminal breach of trust and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Dan Doron, who has not worked for the TTC, has been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence The other former employees suspected of involvement are both being sought by police. They are managers Lorenzo Lamanna, charged with theft under $5,000 and fraud under $5,000, and John Barrie Mulhall, facing those two charges and also one count of criminal breach of trust.