Two former Metro workers pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $400,000 in cash -- typically in $500 sacks of coins -- from fare card machines and using the money to buy lottery tickets.
Horace McDade, 58, of Bowie, Md., and John Haile, 54, of Woodbridge, Va., pleaded to theft and conspiracy to launder money in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, and they each face up to 30 years in prison.
The two were arrested in January, but Monday's hearing offered the first details on the scope of the pair's scheme. In court documents they admit to stealing at least $445,000 since 2010. That amount could reach $600,000 as investigators continue to comb through various accounts, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad Golder.
The amount does not include any thefts that occurred before 2010. Lottery records show that Haile had substantial winnings as far back as 2008.
Prosecutors launched the investigation after getting reports that Haile routinely pulled up in a Jaguar to a store in Woodbridge with $500 bags of coins to buy lottery tickets. Lottery records show Haile had more than $60,000 in reportable winnings since 2008. That only includes winning tickets that paid $600 or more. Any winning tickets less than that amount would have been paid without any record being kept.
U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said after Monday's hearing that the two “ripped off the very Metro system they were sworn to protect.”
McDade worked as a “revenue collection technician” and Haile was a Metro police officer who provided protection to the workers like McDade who handled large amounts of cash. The two admitted that they altered their schedules to work together as much as possible.
Usually the two would deviate from their normal work route and hide the money in some brush underneath an overpass in the parking lot of the Courtyard Marriott hotel in Alexandria. They then would go back and retrieve the money each night.
Asked by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, McDade said the money would occasionally be gone by the time they went to retrieve it. McDade occasionally played the lottery but more often put the money in his bank account or made purchases at home-improvement stores like Lowe's or The Home Depot.
Haile admitted that he played the lottery on a massive scale and told Brinkema he is now being treated for gambling addiction. In one three-month period from October through December, Haile spent $28,000 on lottery tickets at a single convenience store.
Both men declined comment after Monday's hearing.
Metro fired the two men after their arrest and launched its own investigation to determine how the men got away with the scheme for so long. The agency declined to comment beyond a statement issued from its police chief Michael Taborn, who said, “Metro customers and stakeholders deserve nothing less than the highest level of honesty and integrity from our employees, especially from an officer who swore an oath. This is a serious breach of trust.”