CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office indicted three individuals in connection with an internal investigation into RTA's Paratransit Program.
Cleveland 19's Carl Monday and his team first requested public records concerning the investigation in March 2015. At the time, RTA would only say, "We are investigating," that the probe is "ongoing," and that the investigation is "the result of a management audit of internal controls."
On Thursday, Pamela G. Mason, 61, of Euclid was charged with one count each of theft in office, tampering with records and identity fraud. Mason is a former RTA Paratransit dispatcher who retired last year according.
Linda Williams, 64, of Cleveland, was charged with two counts each of identity fraud and one count of theft. She is a former RTA employee who now works for a company who provides contracts for Paratransit rides.
Trina Thompson, 48, of Cleveland, was charged with one count of theft in office. She was suspended Thursday from her position with RTA as a Paratransit dispatcher.
A source who brought the investigation to Monday's attention said RTA auditors uncovered what the source called "massive corruption" in the program.
The tipster said schedulers concocted a scheme with drivers that involved bogus pick-ups of fictitious passengers, generating overtime for some drivers.
A check of RTA's records showed overtime paid to Paratransit drivers ballooned by about a $250,000 last year.
The Paratransit Service provides more than 700,000 trips a year, driving the disabled to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and senior centers.
The program costs more than $20 million annually and is largely subsidized by RTA's general fund. Seventy percent of RTA's revenue comes from a 1 percent county sales tax.
After the indictments RTA released the following statement:
In February of 2015, as a result of a routine audit, RTA identified some issues regarding the dispatching and use of Paratransit services. RTA immediately launched an investigation, and we referred the matter to the County Prosecutor in March.
"We also took immediate action to stop the improper use of Paratransit services, and to identify those involved and to put measures in place to best assure that his never happens again," said RTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese.
"We have been cooperating throughout in the investigation, and we were careful not to take any actions that could have jeopardized the process or the outcome."
Today, three individuals were indicted.
Other employees found to have engaged in any irregularities will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.
It is important to note that no RTA customer was denied service due to these issues.
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