HARRISBURG – Sources say two drivers and a ranking staff member of the Luzerne County Transportation Authority testified today before a grand jury meeting at a state office building in Harrisburg.
This is the third time since December 2013, different employees of the LCTA have gone before the grand jury in the so-called “Ghost Riders” Investigation.
The grand jury is looking into accusations spelled out in a 2013 Penndot audit of the authority’s senior rider program.
Auditors found the LCTA received more state money by adding more than three million senior passengers than it actually had from 2007-2011.
The audit singles out four individual drivers, identified by their employee numbers not their names, and one particular route: Route 10 which runs from downtown Wilkes-Barre to the Wyoming Valley Mall.
Penndot auditors took the number of passengers the LCTA claimed it had, then cross-checked those numbers with what he saw on surveillance cameras mounted on the buses.
On a July 2012 day, Penndot auditors looked found one driver on the mall route claimed 537 seniors were passengers on several afternoon routes.
The audit found just 18 on those trips.
On the same day, another driver reported 105 seniors, but auditors say video showed just 33.
Another third driver reported 256 senior passengers that day, and again, the video showed 33.
According to the audit, a fourth bus driver claimed 53 seniors riders rode oh his bus, yet the actual audit could only account for one senior passenger.
It is not known if the audit’s findings are part of the criminal investigation, conducted by the state Attorney General’s Office.
Members of the LCTA board last week voted to spend $25,000 to have a consultant review that audit to potentially challenge its findings. As a result of the audit, Penndot is withholding $3.16 million from the Transportation Authority.