Senior MARTA executive sentenced to federal prison for causing MARTA to pay $500,000 for work never performed
ATLANTA - Former MARTA Senior Director of Operations Joseph J. Erves has been sentenced to two years, nine months in federal prison for orchestrating a false invoicing scheme that resulted in MARTA paying more than $500,000 for maintenance work that was never performed and for then funneling most of that money into his personal bank accounts.
“Given his executive management position, it is clear that MARTA placed great trust and faith in Erves,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Unfortunately, instead of serving the public interest and taking his civic duty seriously, Erves chose to indulge his desire for money and a fancy car. His quest for personal enrichment has earned him this sentence and time to reflect on his dishonesty.”
“The vast majority of public servants are honest and dedicated people who strive to do the right thing for their constituents and their communities. Unfortunately there are a few, like Mr. Erves, who are only concerned about themselves,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “His actions hit at the heart of government and erode public confidence. That’s why the FBI makes public corruption our top criminal priority.”
“Mr. Erves dishonored his position and violated the trust of the Authority and the communities we serve,” said MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham. “This sentence is proof that no one is above the law. The MARTA Police Department continues to take these types of crimes seriously and we will aggressively pursue criminal prosecution.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, 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 MARTA buses and rail cars and had the authority to approve payments of up to $10,000 to vendors for work performed on behalf of MARTA.
Beginning in 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 receiving payment, the three vendors funneled most of the money they 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 work was actually performed.
Joseph J. Erves, 53, of Lithonia, Georgia, has been sentenced to two years, nine months in federal prison, and ordered to pay $522,825.45 in restitution. On August 24, 2017, Erves pleaded guilty to one count of Federal Program Theft.
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 at USAGAN.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.