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Charges expected in theft, sales of bus passes

A county employee stole Metro Bus and Rail passes worth more than $200,000 for illegal sale on the street, authorities say, and the woman is expected to be charged soon.

The unnamed Social Services clerk has admitted involvement in the scam, which officials say might have continued for more than a year, Commissioner Michael Weiner said Friday.

The scheme involved stealing passes provided by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for distribution to social services recipients and reselling them at half price.

"It appeared to be a practice involving one clerk in the accounts area stealing passes secured in a safe," Weiner said. "The problem was that a single person had control of that inventory, and that has now been corrected."

The commissioner explained that his department distributes the passes as part of its normal practice. But officials noticed the loss of about 50 passes in December, followed by 450 in January. That led to an investigation by the Sheriff's Department, which quickly zeroed in on the suspected clerk.

"Under interrogation, she has fully cooperated," Weiner said, adding that accomplices in the community have been identified.

NFTA police also have arrested a number of people who attempted to use the passes, he added.

"I'm just disappointed that this practice might have been going on for a year," he said, adding that he believes enough controls have been established to prevent any recurrence. The county comptroller's office is also expected to join the probe, he said.

Weiner declined to identify the woman, except to say that she has been suspended and that termination and criminal charges are expected.


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