SALT LAKE CITY — A former Utah Transit Authority employee was charged Tuesday with stealing about $71,000 from the company since 2014, according to charging documents.
Jason Vaughn Guest, 37, of American Fork, was charged in 3rd District Court with engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony, and five counts of misuse of public money, a third-degree felony.
Guest was a farebox revenue processor and supervisor whose duties included collecting and processing “bus farebox receipts and tokens, ensuring receipts and ticket vending machine cash receipts were picked up and deposited into UTA’s bank account,” the charges state. He was also expected to watch over the cash room, also called “the vault.”
On Jan. 11, 2018, police say Guest walked into the vault after hours by himself. He walked in with a black gym bag and opened a machine that “receives cash from bus operations on a daily basis,” according to the charges.
When confronted later that month about the missing money from that day, Guest said, “No comment,” the charges state.
According to court documents, UTA tracks the amount of coins and bills it receives in fares and says the daily ratio of coins to bills is fairly consistent. But when UTA began looking at spreadsheets of the bill to coin ratio on the nights Guest worked, they noted an “extreme variance,” the charges state.
“Analysis ... of the coin bill ratio between January 2017 and January 2018 revealed approximately $71,000 to be missing,” the charges state.
Investigators say Guest was placed on leave and later fired.
When company officials went back to watch surveillance video from five nights Guest was working, they observed him go into the vault with a black bag and fill it with bills, according to the charges.
Guest was also seen putting buckets of “mutilated coins” in his vehicle as well as old metal fare boxes, allegedly to be recycled, the charges state. “Guest’s car would be so weighed down that it would drag on the ground.”
From 2014 to 2015, Guest made 51 transactions at one local recycling company, dropping off more than 11,300 pounds of metal and receiving more than $4,300, the charges state, but employees never saw Guest give receipts for the recycled materials back to UTA.