Citing sensitive information, UTA declines to release audit after stolen fares

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Utah Transit Authority riders load a bus and pay fares in Farmington on March 7, 2019.

The Utah Transit Authority has decided not to release an audit of its fare-collecting procedures that it ordered after two employees were charged with stealing more than a combined $500,000 in coins from fares.

But it is outlining some changes that it is making after that now-completed audit by an outside contractor, RSM.

“UTA will not be releasing the auditor’s report, as it contains sensitive information about security procedures and processes,” said UTA spokesman Carl Arky after The Salt Lake Tribune requested a copy.

However, he said UTA Executive Director Carolyn Gonot and the UTA Board “acknowledge that the agency had deficiencies in its policies and processes of handling farebox revenue.”

After the audit, he said some changes were implemented immediately and “additional changes and more study of UTA’s entire cash and fare revenue collection system are underway.”

Among changes he listed are that the agency’s comptroller now oversees fare collection activities. “A project manager has also been assigned full-time to evaluate and implement upcoming changes,” Arky said.

Also, UTA is having more than one person present during farebox handling and is cross-training extra employees about farebox repair and oversight.

Arky said additional cameras and security systems were installed. Other new stronger internal controls include installing location devices on all vehicles involved in fare collection, plus processing fareboxes as buses return to the garage.

“UTA is now hiring an expert consultant to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the agency’s cash and farebox collection systems and to provide recommendations for the short and long-term on farebox replacement,” Arky said.

That comes after two UTA employees were arrested a month apart last year on charges of stealing cash from fareboxes.

In October, David Leroy Healy, 54, of Taylorsville was arrested and charged with numerous felony counts. Charging documents said evidence showed theft of perhaps $450,000 — and investigators said that amount may rise as probes continue.

David Leroy Healy, 54, of West Jordan was charged 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, exchange 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.

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 fareboxes and pocketing the money.

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 show that happened on numerous occasions.

To show the size of those alleged thefts over several years, they amount to nearly 1% of the $53.4 million that UTA expected to collect in passenger fares during 2019.