United States Attorney John A. Horn
Northern District of Georgia
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2017
Bob Page, PAO
SENIOR MARTA EXECUTIVE PLEADS GUILTY TO FALSE INVOICE SCAM
CAUSING MARTA TO PAY $500,000 FOR WORK NEVER PERFORMED
ATLANTA – Joseph J. Erves, MARTA’s former Senior Director of Operations, has pleaded guilty in federal court to orchestrating a false invoice scheme that resulted in MARTA paying more than $500,000 for maintenance work that was never performed and for funneling most of the money back into his personal bank accounts.
“Erves was entrusted to use taxpayer dollars to operate MARTA effectively and responsibly,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn. “His theft of $500,000 in MARTA funds was a blatant display of his desire for self-enrichment at the expense of the public interest.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (“MARTA”) is the principal public transportation operator in the Atlanta metropolitan area, providing fixed rail and bus service to more than 500,000 passengers per weekday. Formed in 1965, MARTA is a multi-county governmental agency with a 2016 annual budget of more than $880 million.
From 1993 to 2017, Erves worked for MARTA, ultimately serving as its Senior Director of Operations. In that position, Erves oversaw the maintenance of all of MARTA’s buses and rail cars and had the authority to approve payments up to $10,000 to vendors for work performed on behalf of MARTA.
Beginning in or about 2010, Erves retained three different vendors purportedly to perform maintenance projects for MARTA, including repairing brake testing equipment and fixing various MARTA tools and equipment. From approximately June 2010 to December 2016, Erves had fake invoices prepared on behalf of the three vendors for more than 40 maintenance projects for which no work was performed.
Erves then used the false invoices as bases to authorize payments to the three vendors. In many cases, Erves personally approved payments to the vendors knowing that the vendors had not performed any work for MARTA.
After being paid, the three vendors funneled most of the money received from MARTA into Erves’s personal bank accounts. Subsequently, Erves used the money deposited into his accounts to pay personal expenses, such as multiple purchases at high-end department stores and the purchase of a Porsche 911. Based on Erves’s authority and representations, MARTA paid the three vendors more than $500,000 for maintenance projects where no worked was actually performed.
On August 24, 2017, Erves, 52, of Lithonia, Georgia, was charged via criminal information with one count of Federal Program Theft. Erves has pleaded guilty to the information.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the MARTA Police Department are investigating this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey W. Davis and Alison Prout are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office atUSAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
Please be advised of two different types of scams that have been occurring:
– A company by the name of “RoadMasters” has been stating that they have extra gravel and will unload it on your land for $1.00 a foot. This is a scam. They will proceed to overcharge you for the gravel.
– We posted awhile ago about a scam involving Georgia Power– this is occurring again. If someone calls you posing as Georgia Power stating that you are late on your payments and you that you need to go put money on a money card or they will shut off your power is NOT REAL. This is a scam. A company will NEVER have you put money on a money card for payment.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to give us a call.
Decatur, GA – Please be advised that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s main line (404-244-2600) has been compromised as a result of telephone spoofing. This is a scam that the GBI has been dealing with for approximately one month. When a telephone number is spoofed, the Caller ID of the caller will appear to be coming from a valid number. In the cases specifically related to the GBI, the individual being called will see telephone number 404-244-2600.
In many of the phone calls, the caller has called home phones and cell phones stating that they are with the GBI collecting a debt with the IRS or collecting a debt for college and that there would be a warrant out for their arrest if they didn’t pay the fine.
The GBI does not contact individuals for debt collection. If you get a call from anyone claiming to represent the GBI in this manner, you are urged not to conduct any business over the phone if you did not initiate the call. Additionally, do not give credit card information out to someone who has called you.
The GBI is currently investigating this matter.