Ex-Metro Supervisor Gets 3 Years for Agency Theft

By Theola Labbé-DeBose
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 18, 2008

A former Metro supervisor who stole more than $560,000 from the transit agency was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison and ordered to pay back the money once she is released.

Marcia Anderson, 47, told U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington that she regretted committing what transit officials said is the largest theft in Metro's history.

"I sincerely apologize to everyone who had faith and had trust in me," Anderson said. "Give me whatever punishment you see fit, because I did something wrong."

Anderson pleaded guilty in April to a charge of wire fraud and faced up to 41 months in prison. Prosecutors say that for six years beginning in 2001, she helped herself to cash proceeds from Metro Farecards, passes and bus tokens. She forged end-of-day accounting sheets of the 10 to 15 transit clerks she supervised to cover up her deception.

Officials became aware of wrongdoing in May 2007, and an investigation led to her arrest and firing that year.

Anderson, of Silver Spring, a divorced mother of two, used the money to enhance her lifestyle, authorities said, buying houses in the District and Maryland, a BMW and house furnishings and paying off credit card bills loaded with expenses from vacations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick Yette said in court that instead of alerting supervisors to a security loophole in the accounting procedures, "she acted like a thief."

The judge gave a window into Anderson's life story, recounting in court that she was a naturalized citizen originally from Jamaica who never knew her father. Anderson was raised with her sister by her mother.

The family was too poor to send her to school, and Anderson did not receive formal education until she earned a GED in her teens when she came to the United States. She married and had a son and daughter and started working for Metro in 1998, the judge said.

Defense attorney Billy Ponds said Anderson eventually divorced, leaving what he described as an abusive marriage, and she started stealing to provide for her two children as a newly single mother. Since her arrest, Ponds said, she has met with Metro officials twice to explain the flaws in the system.

The judge acknowledged Anderson's efforts but said that her actions were especially egregious because of her supervisory role in the public agency, one that struggled to secure enough money for operations. Anderson earned $42,000 to $49,000 a year during the scheme, authorities said. She typically stole about $2,000 at a time.

This was Anderson's first offense, but because she spent the money on "luxury items," Kollar-Kotelly said, "basically it's a motivation that goes back to greed."

The judge said it is not clear whether Anderson would have changed her ways had she not come under investigation. "You didn't stop stealing on your own; you were caught," she said.

Anderson will be allowed to surrender herself to federal prison officials to begin her sentence, which could be in a few months.

"She's hopeful that she will get to spend the holidays with her family," her attorney said.

Anderson walked out of the courtroom with her two grown children and hugged her daughter, who cried on her shoulder. Anderson consoled her. "It's okay," she said, holding her tightly.

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