A Metro Transit police officer returned nightly to a Woodbridge, Va., gas station to buy hundreds of dollars worth of scratch-off lottery tickets. He always arrived late at night, and he always paid with coins.
After three years of the routine, the FBI began investigating the suspicious behavior and concluded the man was buying the lottery tickets with money stolen from his day job.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors identified the officer as John Vincent Haile, 54. They charged Mr. Haile and Horace Dexter McDade, 58, who was responsible for collecting fares, with "conspiring to commit theft from programs receiving federal funds."
It is unclear exactly how much money was stolen from the transit authority, but authorities say dating back to 2008 there are unexplained bank deposits totaling more than $150,000 made to Mr. Haile's account.
Since October, when authorities began tracking Mr. Haile's purchase of lottery tickets at the Woodbridge convenience store they say he spent $28,180 there. Through his massive lottery ticket expenditures, prosecutors say Mr. Haile has also collected big payouts — on 58 occasions since 2008 he collected lottery payouts greater than $600, totaling $62,800 altogether.
After the announcement of the men's arrest Thursday, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles announced that the agency will conduct a review of control and management systems "to fully understand how wrongdoing occurred and to implement tighter detection systems."
Both employees have been suspended without pay and Metro is in the process of terminating Mr. Haile's employment, Metro officials said. Additionally, Metro's revenue facility supervisor has been fired.
Mr. Haile and Mr. McDade each face five years in prison if they are convicted. After making their appearance in federal court in Alexandria on Thursday, both men were released on their own recognizance.
"Each night, the Metro put its trust — and its money — in the hands of these two defendants, and these men are accused of ripping off thousands of dollars from the Metro and local taxpayers," U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said.
Prosecutors say Mr. Haile and Mr. McDade stole bags of coins from Metro while they were collecting money from fare machines inside rail stations. Several times in December and January, during which Metro police officers followed the men and later tracked them with GPS attached to their vehicles, the men left stations after collecting money and dropped bags in inconspicuous locations. After they left work, they each returned to retrieve the bags of change.
Mr. Haile, of Woodbridge, has worked for the Metro Transit Police Department since 1997. Mr. McDade, of Bowie, has been employed by Metro since 1979.
"I want to say clearly that we will not tolerate theft from Metro, and employees, especially law enforcement personnel, will be held accountable," Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn said.