Five TTC transit cops are facing criminal charges after allegedly falsifying hundreds of tickets in an apparent scheme to cover up repeated absences from work.
All five transit enforcement officers have been fired, along with three other employees whom the commission believes engaged in similar behaviour but police lack enough evidence to charge.
At a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday, TTC chair Karen Stintz said it was "a very disappointing day for the TTC."
"I can't underscore how disappointed I am, how disappointed [TTC CEO Andy Byford] is, and how disappointed we are as a commission," she said, adding that the charges come at a particularly damaging time "when we're trying to rebuild the public trust and the public confidence in our system."
The eight men were members of the TTC's 40-officer transit enforcement unit, which patrols the system giving out tickets for fare evasion as well as provincial offences like trespassing, loitering, public drinking, and solicitation.
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross says the commission launched an investigation into the unit in September after management was alerted to "irregularities" with some of the tickets. Byford, suspecting criminal activity, called police Chief Bill Blair for assistance.
With the help of surveillance footage, the investigation determined that five members of the unit were not at work at times they claimed to have issued hundreds of tickets. It's alleged they falsified the citations to make it look like they were on the job, and attributed the fabricated offences to several homeless people known to ride the TTC. Because the homeless people had no fixed address, the fines could never be followed up on.
Although it's not known how many hours the employees missed, it's believed the alleged false ticket scheme began operating before September 2012.
Ross would not reveal where the men where when they were supposed to be at work, but said there was strong evidence they were offsite on numerous occasions.
"Suffice it to say, if they said they issued a ticket at Dundas Station, they were not at Dundas Station," he said.
Michael Schmidt, Tony Catic, John Posthumus, Jamie Greenbank, and Neil Malik face charges of attempting to obstruct justice and fabricating evidence.
According to the Ontario public salary disclosure list, Malik, Greenback, and Catic made $102,654, $107,961, and $114,185 respectively in 2011. Schmidt, who held the rank of sergeant, made $129,150 that year. There is no listing for Posthumus, likely indicating that he made less than $100,000 in 2011, or was not employed by the TTC at the time.
The TTC did not release the names of the three other employees who were dismissed but not charged.
Ross said that in the wake of the incident the commission is launching a "thorough" audit of its ticketing and employee supervision policies.
"We are taking this extremely seriously, which is why we're here today," he said.
No fines associated with the allegedly fake tickets were ever paid, but Ross said the commission is moving to cancel them just in case. The more serious offences carry fines of up to $195.
The TTC has struggled with several high-profile episodes of employee misconduct in recent months that have hampered efforts to overhaul the agency's traditionally poor reputation for customer service.
In November, a fare collector and two union representatives were charged with theft after a fare box came up $3,800 short. In a separate incident earlier this month that provoked outrage online, a mother complained that a bus driver verbally harassed her when she tried to bring her stroller onto his vehicle.