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Two scammers charged with printing over $4 Million in 'ghost passes' with Boston' "T" system


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Prosecutors allege T scammers printed more than $4M in 'ghost passes'

 

By Eric Moskowitz, John R. Ellement, and Martin Finucane,

Boston Globe Staff

May 20, 2011

 

 

SALEM, Mass.-- A man and woman from Revere allegedly printed and sold more than 20,000 unauthorized MBTA passes worth more than $4 million, using Craigslist.org to find customers for their "ghost passes" and depositing the profits in 45 different bank accounts, a prosecutor said today at their arraignment.

 

In what officials have described as the largest fare evasion case in T history, Andres Townes and Gloria C. Escobar, both 27, pleaded not guilty today to larceny and conspiracy charges in Salem District Court. Judge Michael Lauranzano set bail at $250,000 for Townes and $100,000 for Escobar.

 

Assistant Attorney General Gina Masotta said Townes had reaped $800,000 from the scheme. Escobar made $20,000 to $25,000 a month from it, Masotta said, but the prosecutor didn't say how much Escobar garnered in total.

 

Townes owned a fully paid-off property in Lawrence, and was making payments on a property in Revere. The funds used to buy the former came from the sale of "ghost passes" and the down payment for the latter came from the same source, Masotta said.

 

Townes and Escobar, who lived together until recently and used the aliases Rich and Lisa Rohan, also enjoyed multiple cars, trips, and jewelry that were paid for by money generated from the scheme, Masotta said.

 

Townes, according to state officials, worked for the MBTA contractor, Cubic Transportation Inc. of Beverly, where he allegedly printed the passes.

 

Escobar, who was not a Cubic employee, would meet with customers in person. Later, customers could buy the passes by mail. Customers sent money orders to a post office box in Beverly. The money was then deposited to the various bank accounts, Masotta said.

 

Masotta said other people were also involved. "It's clear at this point that this was a very well-organized, extensive, and long-running scheme," she said.

 

Townes's attorney, William O'Hare, emphasized his client did not act alone. "The summary of the government's case that I've received today would suggest that lots of people are involved in this scheme," he said.

 

Escobar's attorney, James Craig, said, "This is a young woman who I think has been caught up in something much bigger than her."

 

 

http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2011/05/second_person_a.html?p1=News_links

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