MBTA parking probe referred to Healey
Revenue ‘discrepancies’ now seem to be far more serious
The MBTA’s months-long probe into the loss of revenue at T parking lots has been referred to Attorney General Maura Healey, a spokesman for the authority said.
It’s unclear whether Healey is preparing to file criminal charges, but the referral suggests that what began as a relatively minor inquiry handled by the private company that operates the T’s parking lots has mushroomed into something far more serious. What was initially described as “revenue discrepancies” at one parking lot has blossomed into losses at multiple lots that some estimate could run into the millions of dollars.
T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said he could confirm that the matter has been referred to Healey’s office for further investigation, but declined further comment. A spokeswoman for Healey declined comment.
Marc Lutwack, executive vice president and partner at LAZ Parking LLC, which operates MBTA parking lots under a contract with the authority, issued a statement saying the firm “is built on trust and integrity. We will, of course, continue to work with all appropriate authorities to bring this matter to resolution.”
The parking problem surfaced initially in February when daily parking revenue reports didn’t match up with spot-checks of actual vehicle counts conducted by agency officials. The T initially said the revenue discrepancies were discovered only at the North Quincy Station and asked LAZ to investigate. LAZ reported back that it had taken action to address any problems; the T, however, wasn’t satisfied and called in the transit police and the Transportation Department’s auditing division to investigate.
In mid-May, the T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board was briefed on the problem by the agency’s legal counsel. He said the focus of the investigation had been expanded to three parking lots — North Quincy, Lechmere, and Riverside — and was scaled back to just North Quincy and Lechmere after it was determined no revenue losses occurred at Riverside. T officials said two LAZ employees had been fired and a parking audit specialist had been retained. The officials also said it appeared the revenue discrepancies were not huge, suggesting the problem was relatively minor.But concerns ratcheted up in late May when parking revenue numbers from March and April indicated receipts at many lots, including Riverside and others in addition to North Quincy and Lechmere, had gone way up after the two LAZ employees were terminated. The numbers suggested the revenue losses were larger and broader than originally thought.
The T’s director of parking, Ronald Ross, was ousted from his post and his responsibilities, along with advertising, concessions, and other operations, were put under the control of Bryan Gubbins, the director of real estate for the Transportation Department. Brian Shortsleeve, the chief administrator at the T, said earlier this week Ross is in the process of leaving the agency.