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Five Massport workers arrested on bribery charges

Five state workers face criminal charges that they allegedly took bribes from cab drivers at Logan International Airport so the drivers could bypass the waiting pool to pick up fares, ­officials said Tuesday.

The accused are employed by the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs ­Logan, and are charged in Suffolk County with accepting a corrupt gift, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said in a statement with Massport and State Police officials.

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According to the statement, the men usually took between $20 and $40 from drivers to ­allow them to skip the waiting pool, though the suspects sometimes accepted scratch tickets, cigarettes, and other goods as bribes.

Between November and January, the defendants allegedly ­received a total of just over $1,000 in bribes from drivers working with law enforcement.

Jake Wark, a spokesman for Conley, said in an e-mail that the tally “only reflects the amount documented by State Police inves­tigators in controlled payments . . . and we believe much more money changed hands.”

He said officials are trying to determine when the alleged scheme began.

The men, who work jobs commonly known as cab starters, were identified as Kenneth Clement, 67, of Attleboro; ­Michael Garvey, 51, of Melrose; Vadim Mkrtychev, 37, of West Roxbury; James Mulrey, 45, of Canton; and Donald Potts, 47, of Medford.

They are scheduled to be ­arraigned Wednesday in East Boston District Court. None of the men could be reached for comment, and it was not clear whether any have a lawyer.

Sean O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25, which represents the defendants, said it was premature to comment. “However, Teamsters Local 25 does not condone and/or support anyone that attempts to bring reproach upon our organization,” he said in an e-mail.

A Massport spokesman said the defendants receive salaries of $63,000 and are suspended without pay while the case is pending. Their dates of hire were not available on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the wait for drivers to proceed to cab stands can be as long as 90 minutes on average and even longer if fewer passengers need rides on a given day.

Drivers who go directly to cab stands are known as “jumpers,” and the defendants are supposed to cite offenders.

Some drivers told State ­Police they made about $350 per day following procedure but could make as much as $600 if they paid the defendants, officials said. The men also allegedly steered higher-priced fares to drivers who paid larger bribes.

The statement said that more people could be charged. No cab drivers were charged.

David Procopio, a State ­Police spokesman, said that “the starting point for this inves­tigation was street-level intelligence we gathered last year.”

Authorities arrested all five, four at the airport and one at home, Tuesday amid an “investigation that included video surveillance, secretly recorded conversations with the defendants, the review of GPS monitoring devices on Boston taxi cabs, and additional evidence developed by State Police investigators since September 2012,” the statement said.

“Abusing the public’s trust will not be tolerated, and ­Massport’s Information Technology department worked collaboratively with the State ­Police to assist,’’ said Thomas P. Glynn, Massport’s chief executive. “Massport . . . increased the number of troopers in the airport hackney unit, and we are evaluating various systems that will increase our ability to make certain that each and ­every cab that lines up at our terminal curbs was dispatched from the taxi pool.”

Said Conley, “Working men and women shouldn’t have to grease someone’s palm just to make an honest living, but the defendants are accused of demand­ing just that. At the same time, the taxi drivers who allegedly paid them off enjoyed a tremendous financial advantage.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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