Toronto transit employee, union reps, face charges



TORONTO -- A public transit fare collector has been busted for allegedly stealing cash while on the job and two co-workers, both union representatives, are accused of trying to help cover up the theft.

Toronto Police say officers from 55 Division began probing the allegations a week ago after the TTC turned over the findings of its own internal investigation.

The TTC employees surrendered Tuesday at a police station and all three now face "serious" criminal charges.

"It's alleged one of the accused, who is employed as a TTC collector, had his money float audited as part of general practice by the TTC," Const. Tony Vella said Thursday, explaining such audits are "regularly" conducted by the TTC.

"As a result of the audit, the employee's float was found to be approximately $3,800 short," he said.

It's alleged the collector also "tampered" with rolls of TTC tokens to cover up the theft.

The situation became even more scandalous when the TTC staffer sought help from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 representatives.

"Union representatives attended and interviewed the employee," Vella said. "The union representatives then allegedly assisted in the destruction of evidence in the investigation."

Police won't say exactly what evidence was allegedly destroyed.

TTC chairman Karen Stintz said she was informed of the investigation Thursday morning and the TTC was taking the case very seriously, especially as the often beleagured transit system is working hard to restore public trust.

"These are extremely serious charges and the TTC is taking appropriate action to deal with each employee implicated," TTC spokesman Brad Ross said, adding any action taken will "reflect the seriousness with which the TTC takes this matter."

He was unable to comment on what, if any, disciplinary action the TTC has taken, so it's unclear if the three staffers have been suspended pending the outcome of the charges.

But what is clear is that the TTC employees could lose their jobs, regardless of what happens when they get their day in court.

"We don't require criminal convictions to terminate employment," Ross said.

ATU Local 113 could not be reached for comment.

The collector, Deodato Sousa, 54, of Toronto, is charged with theft under $5,000.

ATU Local 113 executive board member John Wales, 63, and fellow union representative Clarke Smith, 53, both of Toronto, are each charged with compounding an indictable offence, theft under $5,000 and breach of trust.

The three accused are scheduled to appear at College Park court Jan. 9.

--with files from Jonathan Jenkins

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