Third UTA employee in a year charged with theft from agency

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) This file photo shows a TRAX train at the Sandy Civic Center on June 24, 2019.

For the third time in a year, a Utah Transit Authority employee has been charged with stealing from the agency.

A 66-year-old retired worker was charged on Tuesday with money laundering, a second degree felony, and theft, a Class B misdemeanor.

The probable cause statement said the man was employed in UTA’s light rail maintenance division, used a UTA purchasing card shortly before he retired to buy an air compressor from Lowe’s. He later exchanged it for a variety of personal items.

Charging documents note that UTA employees are allowed to use agency purchasing cards to replace personal hand tools that wear out, but that using it to charge $445 toward the purchase of the air compressor was unauthorized and not allowed.

Supervisors found the charge on records, and asked the retired worker several times to turn it over to them or Lowe’s so the amount could be credited back to the card. Documents said he repeatedly made excuses, including that it was too difficult for him to lift the compressor or that he was busy.

Court documents say when he purchased the air compressor in February 2019, he never removed it from the store but left it for future pickup. In March 2019, he technically returned it — but instead of having the $445 returned to the purchase card account he asked for gift cards.

He used the gift cards to purchase power tools, then later returned the power tools in exchange for more gift cards, court records say. He then used them several times to purchase garden items and a kitchen disposal.

Last fall, two UTA employees were charged in separate incidents for stealing up to $500,000 in coins from fares.

David Leroy Healy, 54, of Taylorsville, was arrested on numerous felony counts in October, and charging documents said evidence showed theft of perhaps $450,000.

In September, Jason Vaughn Guest, 37, of American Fork, was arrested and charged with stealing perhaps $71,000 in cash from fares and about another $4,300 derived from recycling old tokens and fare boxes and pocketing the money.

Court records show that the cases against both are still proceeding.