Fake Boston transit pass suspects plead not guilty

Two suspects in what Massachusetts police describe as a scheme to defraud Boston's transit agency of $4 million in transit fare through counterfeit passes pleaded not guilty Friday to larceny ch...

Two suspects in what Massachusetts police describe as a scheme to defraud Boston's transit agency of $4 million in transit fare through counterfeit passes pleaded not guilty Friday to larceny charges.

It is the largest scheme ever in the agency's history, officials say.

Andres Townes, 27, of Revere was ordered held on $250,000 bail by Salem District Court Judge Michael Laurenzano after being arraigned on larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny charges. Gloria Escobar, 27, also of Revere, was ordered held on $100,000 bail on the same charges.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for June 17.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Transit Police and Massachusetts State Police arrested the two Thursday.

Townes' lawyer William O'Hare told reporters that his client didn't act alone. A lawyer for Escobar, James Craig, said he thinks his client "has been caught up in something much bigger than her."

Prosecutors say Townes made the counterfeit passes while working at Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., a company contracted by MBTA to make the passes. Police say Escobar worked with Townes to sell the fraudulent passes to passengers at a discounted rate, often through Craigslist, with no revenue going back to the MBTA.

Authorities say the fake passes were virtually undetectable.

"We allege that these defendants executed an extensive public corruption scheme to produce fraudulent passes and sell them for their own personal gain," Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a news release. "Our investigation with the MBTA remains ongoing."

Prosecutors say at least $2 million worth of the fake passes were never in service because the passes had been dated and activated for use as far in the future as November 2012. The MBTA does not sell passes months in the future.

In March alone, the MBTA traced the use of more than 400 of the fraudulent passes worth more than $70,000 that were used by passengers, officials said.

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