After 2 workers are arrested for stealing $500K, UTA launches review of how its handles fares

(Photo courtesy of UTA) UTA is exploring ways to keep fare collections secure after two employees were arrested on accusations of theft.

After two former employees were arrested within a month on charges of stealing a combined $500,000 in coins from fares, the Utah Transit Authority said Wednesday it will review and improve its systems for handling such money.

“This is a serious matter and we do acknowledge there are improvements we need to make, and those efforts are under way,” UTA Executive Director Carolyn Gonot told the agency’s board Wednesday.

She said that includes hiring an outside audit firm, RSM, “to provide an independent and thorough review” review of current procedures. That work will begin next week.

She said she expects recommendations to be made quickly, “and we’ll move forward with those.”

UTA Board Chairman Carlton Christensen said, “It’s an unfortunate thing and we certainly want to make whatever change is needed, even if it requires some investment to ensure that the integrity of employees and the agency are maintained.”

That came a day after David Leroy Healy, 54, of Taylorsville, was arrested on numerous felony counts. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Wednesday that while charging documents said evidence showed theft of perhaps $450,000, officials believe that amount may rise as the investigation continues.

David Leroy Healy, 54, of Taylorsville was charged Tuesday with theft, money laundering and misuse of public funds. Police allege that while working as a Utah Transit Authority employee, Healy pilfered coins from bus fare boxes, exchanged them for paper money and deposited the funds into his bank accounts.

Healy worked at UTA as a repairman for fare collection equipment. Charging documents said a neighbor noticed him carrying buckets from his UTA vehicle into his garage, then converting large numbers of coins into cash at a Walmart coin-exchange machine.

When the neighbor asked a Walmart cashier about it, the store worker said Healy did it often and said he owned an arcade. That led to an investigation by UTA police.

On Sept. 10, 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.

He once worked as the agency’s fare box services supervisor but was later demoted to a fare box processor on the night shift until he was terminated.

A supervisor raised questions about why Guest was by himself in early morning hours in the vault area, moved equipment to block camera views of his actions, turned off lights, and later left carrying a bag. Videos showed that occurred on numerous occasions. Additionally, one employee said when he was new, Guest told him to place buckets of coins in Guest’s car.

To show how large those alleged thefts that occurred over several years are, they amount to nearly 1% of the $53.4 million that UTA expects that passenger fares and passes will generate this year.