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I-Team LCTA In Court:

There was dramatic testimony today in court dealing with the ghost rider investigation at the Luzerne County Transportation Authority. Two top officials are accused of ordering bus drivers to "pad" senior ridership numbers. It's a story the i-team has been working on for more than two years. Lead I-Team Reporter Andy Mehalshick has this I-team follow-up from Dauphin County.
Harrisburg, Dauphin County- State investigators say they will prove without a shadow of a doubt that two LCTA managers put direct or indirect pressure on drivers to "hit the button" when it came to Senior Citizen riders...that it was all about the money... Millions in State money that was sent to the LCTA. The more Senior riders the more State money.


LCTA Executive Director Stanley Strelish arrived at District Court near Harrisburg to face charges he ordered bus drivers to pad senior ridership numbers. Also accused of taking part in the scheme -LCTA Director of Operations Robb Henderson. Prosecutors say they let it be known to drivers that unless senior numbers went up - there would be employee lay-offs. The LCTA received some $3.1 million dollars in State funding that it did not deserve--- so says Laverne Collins from Penndot. Collins testified that the state began to look into the ghost rider allegations in July of 2012 after news media reports -including the I-Team- started raising questions about inflated Senior Citizen ridership numbers. In one month those numbers plunged from around 740,000 to about 209,000.

 
" Andy question: Have you ever seen anything like this before and you've been there a long time in your experience the big drop in numbers like we saw in July 2012? I have never seen anything like that no."

Defense lawyers asked why PennDOT never raised questions in previous years and questioned the accuracy of their numbers when it came to monitoring all transportation systems that receive state money.
 
"Andy question Laverne Colline of PennDOT: Was this case a wake up call -an alarm- for Penndot to look closer across the state? Collins: We had started the process before July 2012 and are continuing the process because the accuracy of the numbers have long been important to us.

 
Two mechanics also testified they were told by Strelish that drivers had better hit the button of their would be lay-offs. Five drivers are expected to testify tomorrow. 

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