SEPTA Video Surveillance Manager, Equipment Vendor Indicted for Extensive Bribery and Extortion Scheme
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that James Stevens, 69, of Somerdale, NJ, and Robert Welsh, 59, now living in Arizona, were charged by Indictment with conspiracy, bribery, extortion, and fraud charges related to a scheme to pay off Stevens in exchange for Stevens helping grow the businesses of Welsh. Welsh’s business installed, maintained, and supplied video surveillance equipment to the Southeastern Regional Transportation Authority (SEPTA), and Stevens was a SEPTA official responsible for video surveillance operations at SEPTA.
According to the Indictment, from about March 2014 until about July 2018, the defendants allegedly engaged in a bribery and extortion scheme in which Stevens, who was the Director of the Video Evidence Unit with SEPTA during the time period of the charged conduct, demanded from Welsh, owner and operator of Spector Logistics, Inc., a stream of financial and other benefits in exchange for Stevens’ role in helping maintain and grow Spector’s business with SEPTA. The benefits Welsh provided to Stevens included, most significantly, tens of thousands of dollars in cash payments, as well as donations to an alleged charity that Stevens pocketed, lodging and meals during the 2015 Papal Visit, frequent meals and drinks, tickets to a 2016 Barbra Streisand concert, and funds for SEPTA annual holiday parties. As Stevens demanded, Welsh also offered Stevens future employment with Spector when Stevens retired from SEPTA. During the time of this corrupt relationship, Spector maintained and obtained millions of dollars in contracts with SEPTA. Stevens played a significant role in facilitating and approving contracts for Spector and Blue Zebra, a second company Welsh owned and established with Stevens’ assistance, and helped Spector win bids by giving Welsh inside information about SEPTA’s financial analyses and otherwise collaborating with Welsh in the contracting process. In doing so, Stevens allegedly provided an unfair advantage to Welsh and a disadvantage to other potential vendors.
“Philadelphians deserve public employees who do their jobs honestly, without corrupting the system to line their own pockets,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “As alleged in the Indictment, the defendants’ participation in this scheme was extensive: using millions of dollars in public contracts to fraudulently benefit themselves.”
“SEPTA exists to transport people where they want to go — not to move crooked insiders up a tax bracket,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Stealing public money through back-door deals is reprehensible and the FBI will hold accountable anyone foolish enough to engage in this kind of fraud.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.