A day after a Medford man was arrested and charged with manufacturing and distributing counterfeit subway and bus passes, state officials said they disabled and confiscated at least 50 phony passes believed to be tied to the scheme.
A prosecutor disclosed Tuesday that the phony Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority passes had been rendered useless at the arraignment for Casey Kolenda, 27, who is accused in a scheme that allegedly cost the MBTA nearly $200,000 and put more than 2,500 bogus passes into circulation over six months.
Assistant Attorney General Greg Friedholm described an elaborate process that was used to make counterfeit versions of the MBTA’s LinkPass. Real passes cost $70 and provide riders with access to the subway and bus systems for one month, he said. Prosecutors allege that Kolenda legitimately purchased multiple monthly LinkPasses and used them to create hundreds of forged passes. Information from the legitimately purchased passes was copied using a device known as a skimmer, officials said.
The data was then copied onto hundreds of MBTA Charlie tickets that Kolenda bought for as little as five cents at ticket kiosks, the attorney general’s office said.
Kolenda then applied contact paper bearing the T logo and other information on it to make the fake passes look like legitimate Link Passes.
Hundreds of passes were distributed and used, sometimes more than 15,000 times in one month, the attorney general’s office said. The bogus passes were sold for $35, said Friedholm.
On Monday, investigators searched Kolenda’s second-floor apartment, where they found a work station in the kitchen equipped with a laptop, laser printer, magnetic strip reader, contact paper, and more than 100 Charlie tickets, Friedholm said.
Investigators also said a man who resembled Kolenda was seen on video surveillance purchasing the tickets at multiple MBTA stations.
A not-guilty plea was entered on Kolenda’s behalf in Somerville District Court to five counts of counterfeiting with value over $10,000. Judge Robert Brennan revoked Kolenda’s bail on open cases and set an additional $150,000 bail in the new case. After learning his bail was being revoked, Kolenda made obscene gestures and mouthed an obscenity.
Kolenda’s attorney, A.J. Blank, said Kolenda’s open cases involved motor vehicle violations and an alleged assault on his brother. But the judge noted that Kolenda had a criminal history dating back to 2003.Laura Crimaldi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.