Records from the Virginia Lottery show that Haile won $32,000 last year, $17,000 in 2010, $8,400 in 2009 and $5,400 in 2008, according to the affidavit. The document said an informant told officials that Haile had also cashed winning tickets for less than $600. Records aren’t required for the lesser amounts. Gaddis wrote that lottery officials said Haile “must be buying an extraordinary amount of tickets to win with such regularity, often multiple times a month.”
Metro chief spokesman Dan Stessel said Thursday that the two men were suspended without pay and that their jobs with Metro were “pending termination.” Stessel would not disclose their salaries, saying Metro releases that information only about its executive leadership team.
McDade had worked for Metro since February 1979. In 1989, he was convicted in Prince George’s County on two counts of possession of a controlled substance. He was fined $500 and was sentenced to two years, but most of it was suspended, according to court records.
Haile had worked for the Metro Transit Police since August 1997.
The supervisor of the revenue facility in Alexandria has “been relieved of his duties,” according to a Metro news media release. Stessel would not identify that person, saying that the “action is a personnel matter rather than a criminal matter.”
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said Thursday afternoon that he was “thoroughly disgusted and dismayed” by McDade and Haile’s alleged actions. He described the alleged scheme as a “betrayal to all the honest employees of Washington Metro.”
Stessel said Metro collects about $38 million a month from rail fares — $18 million in cash, the rest from debit and credit cards.
Collecting the money is tricky. Metro uses a special train, known as the “Money Train,” that is made up of several rail cars and runs only at night. The only passengers are heavily armed Metro Transit Police officers and technicians who collect money in large silver cases on wheels. The train is taken to the rail yard in Alexandria, where there is a facility to collect and sort the cash.
McDade, the revenue technician, was part of a special team that supplements the Money Train. Known as “Emergencies,” those members are allowed to go out accompanied by just a single Metro Transit Police officer to “replenish money in the machines and retrieve money from the machines that are full,” according to the affidavit.
Stessel would not explain how Metro reconciles how much is collected at fare machines and then taken to the Alexandria facility, saying, “Those are details that pertain to an ongoing criminal investigation.”
It isn’t the first time workers handling Metro’s money have been accused of stealing.
In 2004, Metro switched from allowing patrons to pay with cash at its parking facilities to requiring that they use electronic SmarTrip cards after an investigation found cashiers hired by a contractor had stolen millions of dollars in revenue over several years.
Sarles said the transit agency’s chief financial officer will “immediately bring in forensic accountants to conduct a thorough review of control systems and management over revenue systems to fully understand how wrongdoing occurred and to implement tighter detection systems.”
The transit agency’s inspector general is also conducting reviews, and Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn is expected to conduct a “top-to-bottom assessment of all policies and procedures” involving officers assigned to the revenue-collection unit, officials said.
The case comes as Metro considers asking riders to pay higher fares and parking fees to help fill a $116 million budget gap for fiscal 2013. Riders, already stressed from service delays, chronic equipment failures and constant maintenance work, are unhappy at that prospect.
Metro workers, angry at their colleagues, worried Thursday that the alleged thefts further tarnish the transit authority’s reputation.
“It all looks bad for those of us on the front lines,” said a train operator who spoke on the condition of anonymity because employees are not allowed to talk to the media without permission. “If you have on a Metro uniform, people already say things to you like: ‘You’re stupid. When are you going to finish this?’
“This just gives more of a negative perception.”
Staff researcher Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.