Two former Metro workers pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing more than $445,000 from the transit agency since 2010, much of it in bags of coins they used to pay off jewelry store debts and buy lottery tickets.
Horace Dexter McDade, 58, of Bowie, and John Vincent Haile, 54, of Woodbridge each pleaded to two counts of stealing from an agency that receives federal money, then conspiring to launder the coins.
They face as much as 30 years in prison, plus they could be on the hook to pay back up to twice the amount they stole. A federal judge is set to determine the exact terms June 15.
|Man kills self at White Flint station|
|A man was killed Monday morning in what appears to be the latest suicide attempt on Metro.|
|The man apparently jumped into the path of the Red Line train at the White Flint station around 10:15 a.m., according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.|
|He died under the train, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Capt. Oscar Garcia.|
|The man was the fifth person to attempt suicide at a Metro station this year. - Kytja Weir|
"These are serious offenses that involve violating the public trust," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride told reporters.
McDade was a revenue technician at Metro for more than 32 years, while Haile was a transit police officer for about 15 years. The two had known each other for at least 10 years, often seeking to work together with Haile protecting McDade as he collected riders' fares from station vending machines. But McDade said under oath that the thefts had begun only in 2010.
The exact amount of money they stole is not clear. So far, the tally is $445,364.06, but prosecutors said it could be as high as $600,000.
Their scam came to an end when they were arrested Jan. 18 after they drove away from a Marriott parking lot with four bags of coins between them totaling more than $8,000. Authorities had begun investigating after the FBI received a tip in September about a man in a police uniform regularly driving a Jaguar to a Woodbridge gas station to buy scratch-off lottery tickets with $1 coins.
Court records say the two stole nearly every day, dumping bags in coins in the underbrush near the Alexandria hotel until they could recover it each night.
Haile used the money to buy lottery tickets, hundreds of dollars' worth at time, with $500 bags of coins. He spent $28,000 on tickets between October and December at one convenience store alone, court records show. He told the court he is undergoing treatment for gambling addiction.
McDade also admitted to buying lottery tickets. But he also used the coins at Home Depot and Lowe's and to pay off account balances at Zale's jewelry store, court records show. He also socked some away in the bank.
Others may have benefited from their theft, as well. McDade told the court that some bags they left on the side of the road were missing when they returned at the end of their shifts.
It still is not clear how the men got away with the thefts for so long -- or whether it went beyond the two men.
Metro has three investigations being conducted by the inspector general, outside accounting firm Deloitte and the Metro Transit Police.
Under the men's plea agreements, they are required to cooperate with investigators.
Haile and Vincent have been fired. A revenue division supervisor was reassigned after their arrests and left the transit agency by his own accord.