A week after a San Francisco cable car conductor was arrested in an alleged fare theft scheme, a second conductor has been booked on similar charges.
As previously reported, 61-year-old cable car conductor Albert Williams was arrested last week, after a two month long investigation allegedly revealed that he'd been pocketing the cash fares ($7 per one way ride) paid by passengers. Late Wednesday evening, the San Francisco Police Department announced a second arrest — this time of David Reyes, a 55-year-old SF resident and fellow cable car operator.
According to the SFPD, Reyes is the "second suspect" in the same investigation that nabbed Williams, and was taken into custody at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the 1200 block of Mason Street, perhaps fittingly the same block as San Francisco's cable car museum.
Police say that Reyes was "booked into San Francisco County Jail on the charges of embezzlement and theft of public monies." According to a spokesperson with the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, he remains in custody as of Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, Williams' case is beginning to wind its way through the court system. According to Bay City News:
On April 20, Williams appeared in San Francisco Superior Court to face the felony misappropriation of public money and embezzlement charges. He pleaded not guilty.
While Williams is accused of taking only $919, prosecutors indicated that the amount could increase as the investigation continues.
Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Lee said on April 20 that a search of Williams’ home found at least $32,000 in cash in a safe and multiple receipts for luxury items.
Additionally, a review of the cash fares Williams has reported over the past five years found similarly low totals compared to other operators on the same route and shifts, Lee said.
Prosecutors allege that Williams and Reyes both circumnavigated the cash fare reporting safeguard by simply failing to give fare receipts, the only record that the money had been paid. As noted last week, this has been an ongoing issue for cable car operators: In March of 2005, cable car service screeched to a 2.5-hour halt after two gripmen were fired for allegedly stealing fares. And still, the issue persisted, with then-Mayor Gavin Newsom saying in January 2006 "I am convinced, based on my own personal experience, (the money) is not going to Muni, but it's going in the pockets of some of our well-meaning operators."
The most recent scandal has caused the SFMTA to rethink the acceptance of cash fares, with director Ed Reiskin saying last week that the agency "will explore long-term options such as eventually removing cash as an on-board payment option for our cable car system." A timeline for such a change, should it be made, has not yet been announced.