But authorities allege that the two men have been taking an unofficial detour, driving to a spot near the Capital Beltway a few hundred yards from the collection building and hiding part of the day’s take. When their shift was done, they would return in their own cars and make off with the money.
On Wednesday night, federal authorities arrested the pair and charged them with conspiring to commit theft. According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, the two have been conspiring since at least 2010.
Surveillance tapes and a confidential source revealed that Haile used bags of the collected coins to buy lottery tickets, according to the affidavit. He collected close to $63,000 in winnings over the past four years.
A federal judge released McDade, 58, of Bowie and Haile, 54, of Woodbridge with no bond after they made their initial appearance Thursday afternoon. A status conference is set for Monday.
McDade told Magistrate Judge T. Rawles Jones Jr. that he plans to hire a lawyer. Haile asked the judge to appoint one for him, according to federal officials. If convicted, McDade and Haile face a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
“They were stealing from the very system they’ve been entrusted to protect, defend and support,” Neil H. MacBride, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said.
It was unclear how much money may have been stolen. Prosecutors say that Haile’s bank records show unexplained cash deposits of more than $150,000 since 2008 and that the probe is ongoing.
The pair systematically worked stations on Metro’s rail lines in Maryland, the District and Virginia, according to officials involved in the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. Investigators found that Haile would often switch his security assignment with other officers so he could work with McDade.
According to the affidavit, surveillance teams observed McDade and Haile on three days in December and January. The two would ride through a parking lot at a Marriott Courtyard hotel on Eisenhower Avenue to an underpass and hide bags of money they would unload from a Metro van. Later, each man would return separately — Haile in a gray Jaguar and McDade in a green Ford — to get their stashed cash and go their separate ways, according to court records and those involved in the case. Investigators placed Global Positioning System tracking devices on their cars and the Metro van.
The underpass is about a quarter-mile from Metro’s revenue-collection facility and is in the opposite direction of Haile’s route home to Woodbridge, authorities said.
Haile used stolen money to buy Virginia Lottery tickets — sometimes paying with bags of change, authorities say. Between October and December, he used more than $28,000 in coins and cash to purchase tickets, according to the affidavit filed by Metro Transit Police Capt. Kevin P. Gaddis.