Five Toronto transit enforcement officers have been arrested after they allegedly wrote several hundred fake tickets to real homeless people.
The Toronto Transit Commission announced the arrests Tuesday. The officers, who were dismissed by the TTC, have been charged with fabricating evidence and attempting to obstruct justice. Three other officers have also been dismissed, though they were not charged criminally.
Karen Stintz, TTC chair, alleged at a news conference that the five employees issued the fake tickets – for offences such as panhandling, loitering or trespassing – to get out of actually doing their job.
"Their job is to protect public trust within the transit system and that trust has been violated by their actions," Ms. Stintz told reporters.
She alleged the officers would sometimes falsify tickets to get out of coming to work. Brad Ross, the TTC's executive director of corporate communications, alleged the individuals would, at other times, be in uniform but not at the location they claimed.
"Suffice it to say, if they said they issued a ticket at Dundas Station, they were not at Dundas Station," he said.
TTC chief executive officer Andy Byford said in a statement to staff he was "angry and frustrated in equal measure" to learn of the charges – angry at the accused employees and frustrated because the scandal comes "at a time when through all our hard efforts we were beginning to rebuild our reputation."
The TTC is nonetheless "still on the right track," Mr. Byford said, and he urged staff to rally around a service of which he remains proud.
The allegations against the men have not been proven in court.
Kevin Wilson, a CUPE spokesman, said the transit officers are members of Local 5089. He said the union is aware of the allegations, but could not discuss them.
Mr. Ross said the TTC is launching a review to look at its ticketing policies and procedures.
The investigation into the TTC officers began in September. That's when, Mr. Ross said, the organization noticed "irregularities" in some of the tickets being issued. He declined to provide specifics and said that information would come out in court.
"Going through the tickets, going through what we call our morning reports that we get every morning after a day of work, we see [tickets] that have been issued, arrests that have been made, occurrences overnight and you start to see a pattern emerging," he said.
Though the tickets were allegedly falsified – the TTC says the infractions never occurred – Mr. Ross said they were issued to real people of no fixed address. "We're not talking hundreds of people. We're talking a select few who are known to us to use the system, who do panhandle in the system … who we do ask to move along, and ask to leave the station," he said.
The individuals named in the tickets were never served because they do not have a fixed address and were not aware of the falsified tickets, Mr. Ross said. The TTC said it will cancel the fines.
When asked why the three officers who were not charged were dismissed, Mr. Ross said the organization believed they were part of the "co-ordinated effort," but could not prove it to such a degree that charges could be laid. However, he said the TTC does not need criminal convictions to dismiss employees.
The organization had 40 enforcement officers and Mr. Ross said the loss of 20 per cent of the force will be felt.
"Clearly, when one-fifth of your work force is no longer working, or at least in uniform, we're going to have to take some measures to get that complement back up. We're working on that," he said.
John Posthumus, 44, of Toronto, is charged with three counts each of fabricating evidence and attempting to obstruct justice. Tony Catic, 45, of Oakville, and Michael Schmidt, 44, of Barrie, are charged with two counts of each. Jamie Greenbank, 48, of Milton, and Neil Malik, 38, of Ajax, are charged with one count of each.
Of the five officers, Mr. Posthumus was the only one not to appear on the province's Sunshine List in 2011 for public-sector workers who earn more than $100,000.
With reports from Timothy Appleby