Eight transit enforcement officers have been fired and five charged with criminal offences, for allegedly issuing false tickets to homeless people in order to cover for their absence.
According to TTC spokesperson Brad Ross, five of the officers are alleged to have submitted hundreds of false tickets to people of no fixed address, for charges such as panhandling, loitering, or tresspassing.
The purpose of the falsified tickets appeared to be to cover the fact that the employees weren’t on duty when they were being paid, the TTC alleged.
“When they showed up to work they would be in uniform, but they would not be where they said they were,” said Ross.
The investigation into the conduct of the officers began four months ago, prompted by observations internally of “irregularities” in the tickets.
“We were noticing in a number of tickets – how they were being issued – patterns emerged with respect to individuals themselves, and also through conduct we witnessed through surveillance,” said Ross.
TTC Chair Karen Stintz expressed disappointment.
“This was a way of not going to work,” said Stintz. “It’s really a slap in the face to all employees who come into work and do a good job.”
The TTC employs 40 transit enforcement officers to police the system. Until several years ago, the officers were special constables with the Toronto Police Service, and the TTC is in negotiations to have that status returned.
At present, the officers are empowered to issue tickets and deal with tresspassing issues. Ross said that, generally, they are expected to help homeless people who might be using TTC property for shelter to find shelter and care with the city.
The names of the individuals who were charged were drawn from a list of names of homeless people known to the TTC. None of those individuals were finally served with the papers, but Ross said the TTC will cancel any tickets that were issued improperly.
The following individuals face charges of attempt to obstruct justice and fabricate evidence: Michael Schmidt, 44, of Barrie (two counts of each), Tony Catic, 45, of Oakville (two counts of each), John Posthumus, 44, of Toronto (three counts of each), Neil Malik, 38, of Ajax (one count of each).
The other three were terminated but not charged. In all cases, Ross said the TTC believed it had enough evidence for firing without waiting for the cases to go through the courts.