- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Metro supervisor’s attempts to win the favor of his attractive female co-workers could land him up to 15 years in prison, according to Prince George’s County prosecutors.

A jury convicted Alfred A. Atanga, 50, of theft over $10,000 for his role in falsifying the time sheets of three Metro employees who worked with him in the agency’s Hyattsville call center, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Though Atanga used his access to Metro’s payroll computer system to pay $24,514 to three employees over a 10-month period for time they did not work, prosecutors said Atanga did not pocket any cash himself.

“It is believed that today’s defendant did not profit from this scheme, but did it to curry favor with women he thought were attractive,” said Nancy Lineman, a spokeswoman for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

Atanga’s attorney, John Riely, said appeal efforts are likely because of the way prosecutors interjected sexual and romantic overtones into the trial.

“The government felt they had to come up with a motive and suddenly we had a sexual component to the trial,” Mr. Riely said. “That was both inappropriate and had no basis in fact as to why things took place.”

Atanga, who now faces up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine, “tried to fairly compensate his employees for what he thought they worked,” Mr. Riely said. “They turned a bookkeeping error in to a criminal trial.”

Two of the women who received the inflated paychecks pleaded guilty to counts of theft. Empriss Jacobs, 28, of Fort Washington pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft under $10,000 and will be sentenced in Prince George’s County Circuit Court at the end of March. Lakisha Gardin pleaded guilty to theft under $1,000 and was sentenced to two years probation, according to online Maryland court records. Atanga, of Bowie, is scheduled to be sentenced June 1.

Charges against the third woman, who testified against Atanga, were dropped, Mr. Riely said.

Metro no longer employs any of the four people, a Metro spokeswoman said.

The theft occurred over a 10-month period beginning in October 2010 and lasting until Metro Transit Police arrested the employees in August. The stolen money has since been repaid, Ms. Lineman said.