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Coins were a clue: Ex-transit workers stole fares to play lottery

March 19, 2012|By Richard Simon
  • These coins are small change compared to the bags of money that former D.C. transit workers stole, in part to buy lottery tickets.
These coins are small change compared to the bags of money that former D.C.… (Unknown photographer )

Reporting from Washington — Perhaps it was the multiple bags of $500 in coins used to buy lottery tickets that tipped authorities off to the theft. 

Two former Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority employees pleaded guilty Monday to stealing at least $445,000 from subway fare machines in Virginia, Maryland and Washington.

John Vincent Haile, 52, a former transit officer from Virginia, and Horace Dexter McDade, 58, a Maryland resident who worked as a revenue collection technician for the transit agency, pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and conspiring to commit money laundering, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. 

The men face a maximum penalty of 10 years on the theft charges and 20 years on the conspiracy charges when they are sentenced June 15.

They were arrested in January after authorities observed them hiding and later retrieving bags of change from beneath an overpass.

"Shortly before midnight on Jan. 18, each of these defendants was caught red-handed with $8,000 that they stole from WMATA,” Neil H. MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. “But this was just the tip of the iceberg. Over the course of several years, these men abused the trust Metro placed in them and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Metro and local taxpayers. They then laundered that stolen money through the Virginia Lottery system and local businesses.''

Authorities received a tip that a man driving a Jaguar and wearing a police uniform was buying lottery tickets with bags of change -- $28,000 worth of tickets in a three-month period last year, according to court records.

Haile has won more than $60,000 from the Lottery since 2008, and bank records showed him with "significant unexplained cash deposit activity’’ in excess of $150,000 since 2008, according to court records.

McDade laundered the proceeds of his thefts by making purchases at home improvement stores, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Restitution will be determined at sentencing, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said.

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richard.simon@latimes.com

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