This story has been updated.
MARTA’s former senior director of operations has been charged with bilking the transit system to the tune of $500,000.
Joseph Erves, 52, of Lithonia, is accused of running a false invoice scheme while he worked at MARTA. The transit agency paid for work that was never done and Erves allegedly pocketed the profits, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He is facing one count of federal program theft and is expected to plead guilty.
A MARTA spokesperson said via email, “We understand that Joseph Erves, a former long term employee, has been arraigned on federal charges related to misappropriation of Authority funds. As a public agency, we take our role as stewards of taxpayer dollars seriously and remain committed to transparency and accountability. This isolated incident has led MARTA to enhance our internal safeguards and departmental auditing process to prevent future situations that compromise the Authority’s use of public funds. MARTA has a plan in place to recover all misappropriated funds following the final resolution of Mr. Erves’ federal case.”
Erves was employed by MARTA from 1993 to 2017. He oversaw maintenance of MARTA’s buses and trains. He was authorized to approve payments of up to $10,000 to vendors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
“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,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
He allegedly used those invoices to pay three vendors who had not performed work, often personally approving the payments. The vendors allegedly funneled most of that money into Erves’ personal bank accounts, which he allegedly used to pay for personal expenses like shopping at high-end department stores and buying a Porsche 911.
“Erves was entrusted to safeguard the taxpayer funds used to run our public transportation authority, and instead he is charged with stealing a half million dollars to buy a Porsche and other high-end purchases,” U.S. Attorney John Horn said via email. “This is a classic case where a public official’s short-term gain in stealing from taxpayers comes crashing down and ends with criminal charges.”