OCEAN CITY -- The town's top transportation official was arrested yesterday and charged with stealing bus fares "in six figures" over several years, police said.
Superintendent of Transportation Darrell Rose, 69, was arrested as he drove into work yesterday morning, said Barry Neeb, police information officer. Mr. Rose was charged with four counts of misdemeanor theft, embezzlement and felony theft in a continuing scheme, police said. The precise amount of money stolen has not been determined.
"It's going to be appallingly high," Officer Neeb said. "The more they look, the more they find." He said the investigation was continuing.
Mr. Rose, who had worked for the transportation department for 23 years, was being held yesterday at the police station pending a bail hearing, Officer Neeb said.
Mr. Rose was suspended without pay after his arrest, said William E. Spencer, city Director of Human Resources. Mr. Rose's annual salary is $50,672, Mr. Spencer said.
The investigation began a month ago, after a transportation worker told city officials he had seen money being stolen, police said. City Manager Dennis Dare turned the case over to the Police Department.
Mr. Rose was responsible for counting the money from city transportation vehicles and making bank deposits, Officer Neeb said. No one else has been charged, he said.
The police investigation, while not complete, indicates that the theft of transportation fares had been occurring for several years.
Ocean City's transportation revenues for the 1995 fiscal year, which ended June 30, were nearly $2 million -- $700,000 from boardwalk trams and slightly more than $1 million for buses, said Martha J. Bennett, the town's finance administrator. The operating expenses for the transportation department, which can transport as many as 900,000 people in a busy summer month, were $2.9 million, she said.
Mr. Dare declined to comment on the arrest, referring all questions to the Police Department. Hal Adkins, director of public works and Mr. Rose's supervisor, said he and Assistant Transportation Superintendent Andrew Horvath would perform Mr. Rose's duties until the case is resolved.
Mr. Adkins and Ms. Bennett were visibly upset by the arrest and accusations against Mr. Rose.
"He's been a department head since I've been here," Ms. Bennett said. "This is unfortunate."