Two former employees have been charged with felony theft after allegedly stealing and reselling more than $95,000 worth of bus passes while working at a Bellevue call center.
According to charging documents, Kimberly B. Holmes, 48, and Manuel Almagro, 30, created false client accounts and modified existing accounts in order to mail hundreds of passes that were intended for Hopelink clients to addresses where Almagro would then retrieve the passes and resell them for $50-$100 each.
Almagro also admitted to stealing between $200 and $300 worth of gas cards, charging documents indicate.
Investigators say the crimes took place between May 2009 and March 2010, when both Holmes and Almagro were employed at a Hopelink call center located at 14812 Main St. in Bellevue. The charges were first reported earlier Wednesday by SeattlePI.com (click here for story).
Hopelink is a partner of the city's Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Department in providing distressed families with essential services.
Many of the passes were sent to a Renton rental property formerly owned by Almagro, according to court documents. Two of the tenants living there eventually tipped off Hopelink to the scheme by returning a package of bus passes to the nonprofit.
Almagro's employment at Hopelink was terminated in June 2009 because of attendance issues, according to charging documents, and Holmes was placed on leave in April 2010 and fired in June 2010 after an internal investigation by the Redmond-based nonprofit.
Glen Miller, a communications manager for Hopelink, said he is unable to comment on the criminal investigation but said the organization has taken preventative measures since disovering the bus pass thefts. Specifically, Miller said Hopelink has established an anonymous hotline for employee whistleblowers, strengthened its financial oversight system, and trained its transportation staff in "anti-fraud education."
“We’ve taken additional precautions to prevent that from happening in the future,” he said.
Insurance covered Hopelink's loss from the thefts, and the stolen bus passes did not impact any of the organization's clients, Miller said.
Arraignment for Almagro and Holmes is set for May 30.