Dozens of managers exit troubled SEPTA office in wake of FBI probe

Commuters are shown exiting a SEPTA bus. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek, file)

Commuters are shown exiting a SEPTA bus. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek, file)

Dozens of managers within SEPTA’s facility management unit have left the public transit agency in the wake of an FBI investigation into the division.

More than 30 managers inside SEPTA’s Engineering, Maintenance and Construction (EM&C) unit retired, were fired from the agency or took an indefinite leave in 2019, according to payroll records obtained by PlanPhilly. A significant number of the departures occurred after PlanPhilly broke news of the investigation in July.

The probe, initiated by SEPTA’s inspector general and later assisted by federal agents, appears to focus on managers’ misuse of agency credit cards and fraudulent invoicing.

The scheme allegedly involved a string of the transit agency’s facility managers who colluded with outside vendors to fabricate fraudulent supply and repair invoices. The invoices were paid, using SEPTA office credit cards, but the requested services or merchandise were never fulfilled. Two equipment suppliers have since been visited by the FBI, according to the Inquirer.

The alleged embezzlement scheme could have cost the $1.49 billion agency in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to sources.

At least 17 managers filed for retirement and another 16 were fired or left the agency for other reasons. Another manager has been on leave for “months” with no specified return date, according to SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch. Busch declined to say if any of the terminations were related to the inquiry.

He said the departmental attrition was roughly consistent with the 9,500-strong agency’s overall employee attrition rate. He said SEPTA saw about 8.4% of its total workforce depart between January and mid-December 2019. For comparison, about 10% of the roughly 300 management-level employees left the EM&C unit over the same span of time.

Sources inside the office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a few of the managers who left the agency were linked to the investigation. In the wake of the investigation becoming public, SEPTA restricted use of agency credit cards and tightened restrictions on how they are used, sources said.

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