A former executive at Atlanta’s MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) public transit system pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding MARTA of more than $500,000 by writing fake invoices.
Joseph J. Erves, 52, of Lithonia, Georgia, was charged via criminal information with one count of federal program theft. Erves has pleaded guilty.
“Erves was entrusted to use taxpayer dollars to operate MARTA effectively and responsibly,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn. “His theft of $500,000 in MARTA funds was a blatant display of his desire for self-enrichment at the expense of the public interest.”
According to Horn, Erves worked at MARTA from 1993-2017 as its senior director of operations. Erves oversaw the maintenance of all buses and rail cars and could approve payments of up to $10,000 for work performed on behalf of MARTA.
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Erves retained three different vendors to perform maintenance on MARTA equipment in 2010. Over the next six years, police say Erves prepared invoices for more than 40 maintenance projects for which no work was performed.
In many cases, police say, Erves personally approved payments to the vendors, who then funneled most of the money back into Erves’s personal bank accounts. He used the money to purchase a Porsche 911 and multiple products at high-end department stores, police say.
Erves had a previous drug conviction and had been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison in 1987, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He was released in 1992.