(Update) Medford man charged with counterfeiting, distributing thousands of MBTA passes

A Medford man is accused of manufacturing counterfeit MBTA passes. Photo: Morgan Rousseau
A Medford man is accused of manufacturing counterfeit MBTA passes. Photo: Morgan Rousseau

A Medford man allegedly cost the MBTA $200,000 by making and distributing thousands of counterfeit transit passes over the last six months.

Casey Kolenda,  27, made obscene gestures at reporters this morning during his arraignment  in Somerville District Court, the Boston Globe reported. He faces five counts of counterfeiting a value more than $10,000.

Kolenda has a criminal history dating back to 2003, according to Judge Robert Brennan, who revoked his bail on open District Court cases, which involved motor vehicle violations and an assault on his own brother, and set $150,000 bail in the counterfeiting case.

Massachusetts State Police and MBTA Transit Police detectives arrested Kolenda without incident at his Medford home, where the fake passes were allegedly made, Attorney General Martha Coakley said.

“We allege that this defendant orchestrated a scheme to manufacture and distribute counterfeit MBTA passes for his own personal gain while defrauding the Commonwealth of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Coakley said. “Our investigation with the MBTA remains ongoing.”

According to MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo, every transaction at an MBTA farebox, gate, and fare vending machine is recorded to a central database that Transit Police and authorized MBTA personnel can use to report on suspicious activity and ultimately block fraudulent use. The practice has been done for the counterfeit tickets identified as part of this investigation, Pesaturo said.

“The MBTA has the capability to block the use of any CharlieTicket at any moment. CharlieTickets have been in use since 2005, and this is the only counterfeiting case. But out of an abundance of caution, the MBTA will increase its monitoring of transactions at fare gates and fare boxes,” Pesaturo said.

A Revenue Analyst in the MBTA Treasurer’s office will conduct regular checks to look for any unusual trends or patterns, and the analyst will also meet monthly with the MBTA’s Chief Technology Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Pesaturo said.

Less than 25 percent of MBTA customers use CharlieTickets.

“Demonstrating again that the MBTA will not tolerate fraud, Transit Police detectives worked closely with State Police investigators and the Attorney General’s office to bring these charges forward,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan. “Our honest, fare-paying customers deserve and expect our full attention to this type of illegal activity. Let this serve as a warning to anybody else who thinks they can perpetrate such fraud.”

His arrest comes after an extensive investigation that began in August 2013, when Transit Police discovered the existence of hundreds of unauthorized tickets in use by riders on the MBTA’s subway and bus systems.

Coakley’s office and state police joined the investigation in September. Authorities identified multiple monthly Link Passes that were purchased legitimately and subsequently used to create hundreds of forged tickets used by riders.

Kolenda allegedly orchestrated a scheme to create the counterfeit $70 monthly MBTA subway and bus passes, known as “Link Passes,” between October 2013 and March 2014, Coakley said.

The investigation revealed that the electronic data stored on the Link Pass magnetic strip was copied using a magnetic strip reader, also known as a “skimmer.”

The electronic data was downloaded onto the magnetic strips of hundreds of MBTA stored-value cards that Kolenda purchased for as little as five cents at ticket kiosks. Kolenda then disguised the forged passes by applying contact paper that bore the production history of the original Link Pass, as well as the MBTA’s trademarked “T” logo.

Similar in appearance and now encoded with the electronic data copied from the Link Pass, the counterfeit cards could be used at any MBTA fare gate in the same manner as the original pass, Coakley said.

The joint investigation revealed that hundreds of counterfeit passes bearing the electronic data of the original were distributed and used on a monthly basis by MBTA riders, sometimes more than 15,000 times in one month.

Investigators estimate that the lost revenue attributable to the forged tickets manufactured and distributed by Kolenda approaches $200,000.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…