Arrest Made of Muni Mechanic in Late-Night Transfer Racket

late_night_transfer_small.jpgLate night transfer tickets. Photo cbcastro.

The San Francisco Police Department has arrested two men allegedly involved in the theft and fraudulent selling of Muni late-night transfer tickets, a practice that deprives the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni, of thousands of dollars a week.

What’s worse, one of the men arrested is a Muni mechanic. Edmund King, a San Francisco resident and Muni employee, was charged with possession of stolen property and conspiracy, both of which are felonies. The other man arrested, Leroy Gutierrez, was charged with conspiracy and possession of stolen property, as well as two other misdemeanor theft charges and misdemeanor possession of a concealed knife.

Late night transfer tickets are valuable because they don’t expire after two hours, like normal transfers. They are given out on surface stops after 8:30 pm and are valid until 5 am the next day.

The sting that nabbed the two men was conducted by the Muni Task Force, a special unit of the SFPD under Deputy Chief John Murphy that operates throughout the Muni system to deter crime. Some of the task force are in uniform, while others operate in plain clothes. The arrests occurred at 16th and Mission Streets, one of the areas of higher incidents of crime related to Muni, according to police data.

"It’s a big deal because this has been going on for years," said SFPD Spokesperson Sgt. Troy Dangerfield in reference to selling late-night passes. Dangerfield also said the stings would continue and they hoped to greatly deter the practice. 

Dangerfield, who previously worked Muni enforcement himself, said it was routine to hear people at 16th and Mission and other areas saying, "late night, late night" when trying to sell the transfers.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose acknowledged the problem is not new.
"It’s an ongoing issue that we’re trying to get our hands around. When
an instance like this happens, we do what we can to take immediate
action."

Rose wouldn’t give too many details about an ongoing
investigation, but said, "We’re investigating it to see exactly how this
happens. We’ll use the
findings of that investigation to make sure this doesn’t happen again."

Rose
said they are recommending King be discharged pending a civil service
hearing. In the meantime, "if he does show up to work, he’ll be asked to
leave," said Rose.

According to the SFPD, this particular operation started in March 2010, when the SFMTA requested help from the SFPD to deter the practice. After surveilling several hot spots for months and investigating the suspects, officers made the arrests on July 15th.

Despite the arrest of a Muni employee, Dangerfield was quick to defend the agency. "Muni has
good employees, so you shouldn’t paint it otherwise," he said. "This is a bad
employee, that’s all."

UPDATED 12:45 pm.

  • You know how the trackless trolleys often unengage from the catenary, and the driver has to go outside to fix them? I once saw a girl make a dash for the transfers the driver had up front, as soon as the driver stepped off the bus.

    I can only imagine she made quite a handful selling them for $1 each later on.

  • Nick

    So they were arrested for selling them individually on the street? That sounds like a time-consuming way to make money. They couldn’t have found a middleman to do it for them? I guess if they were smart about it they would have been pushing for big gain, monthly Fast Passes.

  • There could be the possibility the SFMTA will not issue paper transfers and switch to a Clipper only transfer system.

    On the other hand, the unions will go bonkers because Muni will likely cut the fare inspector force.

  • chronrdr2

    Ok dearie, leave now and learn to play by the rules.

  • @Akit – how would an all clipper system require a reduction in fare inspector workforce? It seems as though the ability to doge a fare would remain the same.

  • SfNative

    The clipper only transfer system is really the only option. I’ve taken the bus for decades and the transfer is always way more than an hour and a half. It’s not fair to have people who use clipper receive only 90 minute transfers. In dc they eliminated transfers when they introduced smart cards and it works great!

  • WTF? Why engage in such a punkass crime when the guy was making 130,000 a year? Seriously.

  • timothy hawkins

    Years, more like decades. I’ve been in San Francisco for almost 25 years and it was going on when I got here. “LATE NIGHTS!,LATE NIGHTS!”

  • THAT’S what “late night” means? I’ve been hearing it for hears and I always assumed it was code for drugs of some sort or another.

  • At least riders were finally being presented with a method to pre-pay.

  • Just Jennifer

    Wow! They actually busted these guys? I can’t tell you how many times I called the police and tipped them off to the various characters selling “late nights” at 16th and Mission. I would call them, describe the person, and the next day the same person would be back. There have been several regulars. On one occasion I did see one of them being questioned by the police without my calling. Of course, when police patrols consist of a officer or two riding by in a patrol car, the chances of them actually catching anyone are slim and none. One thing has always puzzled me…if they are not supposed to be issued before 8:30 p.m., then why are they not confiscated when someone presents one on the bus relatively early in the day?

    I have seen the totally absurd posters on the buses about how they have seen all the fare evasion tricks? First off, they don’t actually have fare inspectors out like they should. Second, the photo is one of the worst Photoshop jobs I have ever seen. It is obvious that the fare inspectors are pasted in, and the shadows are a joke. MUNI can’t even fake stuff well.

  • @Greg: Sorta blows the whole $130k myth out of the water, doesn’t it!

  • the muin guy owes many apts in sf not homes . didnt need it money or this to bad

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