An MBTA repairman accused of stealing more than $80,000 from bus fare collection boxes he was responsible for fixing in South Boston was arraigned Wednesday in Roxbury Municipal Court on larceny charges, authorities said.
Stephen P. Fagerberg, 55, of Dedham, pleaded not guilty to larceny over $1,200 in a continuous scheme and was released without bail, with conditions that he stay away from T property and surrender his passport, according to state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office.
A probable cause hearing is set for Aug. 14. Officials began investigating Fagerberg in April, according to Healey’s office.
“We allege that [Fagerberg] abused his position with the agency to steal public funds,” Chloe Gotsis, a spokeswoman for Healey. “Our office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who exploit their positions for their own personal gain and violate the public’s trust.”
Attempts to reach Fagerberg, who was arrested Tuesday night, and his lawyer for comment were unsuccessful.
In a statement, the MBTA called Fagerberg’s alleged fleecing of the cash-strapped agency “ . . . a reprehensible violation of the public’s trust,” and said Fagerberg has been suspended without pay.
A source briefed on the investigation said the MBTA plans to initiate the process for terminating Fagerberg’s employment. According to state payroll records, Fagerberg earned $69,437 last year, but has been paid as much as $93,360 in prior years.
The transit agency has also launched a review of its revenue collection procedures “ . . . and the T will implement protocols to prevent such activity from occurring,” the statement said.
Healey’s office did not disclose how Fagerberg managed to drain the cash.
But authorities said they discovered what he did with the spoils of his alleged plot.
Investigators planted marked bills in the boxes maintained by Fagerberg, and he allegedly “deposited the marked bills into his personal bank account via a drive-up ATM,” the release said.
In one instance earlier this month, 88 one-dollar bills were recovered from cash deposited at a Santander Bank ATM on Gallivan Boulevard in Dorchester, where 10 small cash deposits had been made into Fagerberg’s account the previous day, according to an MBTA Transit police report.
Two days later, police planted cash into a bus fare collection box and a work order was created for Fagerberg to service the machine, according to the report. Fagerberg accepted the work order, and bank records indicate that he deposited small bills in to his bank account via a Dedham ATM shortly after money was recorded “as missing out of the bus cash box,” according to police.
According to the police report, Fagerberg admitted to stealing a cash box and money on Tuesday and at other times in the past during an interview with investigators on Tuesday night, before he invoked his Miranda rights and requested an attorney. He was then placed under arrest.
More than 1,100 cash deposits were made into Fagerberg’s bank account between Oct. 11, 2017 and April 11, 2018, totalling more than $69,000, police said. During that same time frame, 328 cash withdrawals were made from his account, topping more than $92,000, according to the report.
“Almost all the cash deposits are in very low and varying amounts that appear to have been comprised of smaller bills such as ones and fives, as one would expect to find in a bus farebox containing customer bus fares,” the report said.
After his arraignment Wednesday, T officials said Fagerberg’s job will become obsolete in two years when the agency implements a new fare collection system that will eliminate cash payments on buses.
According to state payroll records, Fagerberg earned $69,437 last year, but has been paid as much as $93,360 in prior years.
His alleged misdeeds had echoes of prior theft scandals at the MBTA, including one notorious case in 1984, when 34 people who worked in the T’s money room — nearly half the room’s employees — were charged with stealing nearly $1 million. Workers stuffed bills into their shoes and socks, taped money to their legs, hid cash in hamburger rolls after removing meat, and stashed money in cigarette packs and soda cans. All the people charged except one were convicted, and the T instituted major overhauls at the facility.
Then in 1993, a three-month probe led to charges against 18 people for stealing at least $21,000 in cash and tokens from T fare boxes, prompting then-secretary of transportation James J. Kerasiotes to propose buying 300 fare-taker uniforms without pockets.
More recently, an outside audit in 2016 found serious security lapses at the T’s cash-counting department in Charlestown, leaving the operation inadequately protected and at risk of theft and danger to its employees.John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff and Jeremiah Manion of the Globe library contributed to this story. Material from Globe archives was also used. Danny McDonald can be reached at email@example.com. Travis Andersen can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe