Feds: Pair Sold Counterfeit SEPTA Passes to City Hall Workers

Philadelphia's inspector general says the investigation into city employees who allegedly purchased the bootleg SEPTA passes is ongoing.

A duo counterfeited fake SEPTA TransPasses and sold more than 2,000 of them in and around City Hall, federal prosecutors said. The fake passes — which allowed unlimited travel on the bus, trolley or subway — were primarily sold to City of Philadelphia employees.

According to charges unsealed today, a pair of 35-year-old Philadelphians — Mark Cooper and Kimberly Adams — conspired to sell the thousands of fake SEPTA passes between August 2013 and June of this year. Cooper allegedly made the TransPasses and gave them to Adams, who the government says sold them inside and outside City Hall for about $50. The passes normally cost $91.

The city says an internal investigation continues. “We’re not going to let city employees siphon money away from one of the region’s public agencies — especially not in City Hall of all places,” Philadelphia inspector general Amy Kurland said in a statement. “Our administrative investigation into other employees who were involved in this conspiracy is ongoing.”

Cooper was arrested this morning. He and his alleged accomplice, Adams, each face up to 20 years in prison and fines of $500,000 if convicted.

“This office will not tolerate fraud involving valuable government property,” U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said. “Those who counterfeit SEPTA passes, as the defendant allegedly did here, will be prosecuted and face serious criminal penalties.”

The indictments detail the alleged scheme: Each month, Cooper would purchase a legitimate TransPass from SEPTA, which he’d use to make counterfeit copies. He’d then allegedly hand off the passes to Adams, who had a regular lineup of customers for the cheaper fake passes. The government says Cooper purchased many of the materials to make the fake passes online at Amazon; the indictment also cites text messages between the two alleged criminals.

The government says Cooper was found to be in possession of a MSR605 HiCo Magnetic Card Reader Writer in early June of this year, in addition to a bunch of counterfeit SEPTA passes for that month. The government is seeking forfeiture of $42,660 in U.S. currency from Cooper, as well as additional assets from both of the alleged co-conspirators.

Copies of the charging documents are below.

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