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Clock in, skip work, get paid: How BART employees padded their salaries with ‘time theft’ 

A man runs with a bag of money by a moving train in a stylized blue-toned artwork.
An investigation by the BART inspector general found multiple employees who would clock into their in-person jobs at the public transit system before spending the majority of their shifts at home or running errands. | Source: AI illustration by Jesse Rogala

An investigation by the BART inspector general found multiple employees who would clock into their in-person jobs at the public transit system before spending the majority of their shifts at home or running errands—in the process collecting thousands of dollars in unwarranted pay.

In the most flagrant example, surveillance by the BART Police Department found that a technician for the system’s automatic fare collection system improperly clocked in for 106 hours across 18 days in 2023, totaling more than $9,000 in falsely billed wages and benefits. 

However, the inspector general report noted that “time-data patterns and other evidence support the likelihood of a higher loss.”

Alan Boie—whose name was not disclosed in the IG report—resigned from his position in the fall shortly after being confronted about the alleged time theft. He has been charged by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, and there is an outstanding warrant for his arrest.  

Boie earned $253,000 in total compensation in 2022 and around $140,000 in 2023, up to the date of his resignation in October. Boie’s $253,380 in total pay and benefits in 2022 was 147% higher than his base salary of $102,424, according to Transparent California, a database of public employee salaries

Boie denied the time theft allegations in an email.

“Not true, BART implies a lot but are too incompetent to correctly interpret data,” Boie wrote.

The two other employees admitted their misconduct before their cases were referred to law enforcement and were disciplined internally, the inspector general’s report said.

Time theft has been a long-standing issue at the transit agency, which currently faces a growing budget crunch caused by a major drop in ridership in the wake of the pandemic. Last month, for example, ridership was just 42% of pre-Covid projections. 

BART is currently getting by with the help of federal emergency funds, which are due to run out in 2025. Starting that year, the agency is projecting annual nine-figure deficits of up to $342 million through 2029, barring an injection of additional funds. 

“Besides the theft, this also weighs on the system because they’re supposed to be out there doing things like maintenance and repairs, and if they’re not doing it, then it speaks to the quality of the system,” BART Inspector General Claudette Biemeret said.

“There’s also the cost to BART’s reputation. That’s very difficult to quantify, but when you have the people unwilling to support public funding needs because they hear about stuff like this, it’s really damaging.”

Arrest warrant issued 

Workers who commit time theft can be subject to criminal prosecution under Penal Code 532 (a)(1), which says anyone who “knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defrauds any other person of money” is breaking the law. A successful felony prosecution of such a case could result in imprisonment of up to three years. 

The BART police presented the findings on the technician to the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office, which filed felony charges against him in November. An outstanding arrest warrant for Boie was issued and signed by a superior court judge, but he has not yet been taken into custody. 

“The defendant was caught after he was observed driving into work, clocking in and then driving home or running errands while on the BART clock,” San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said.

Time theft has been a focus of the inspector general’s investigations into fraud, waste and abuse at the public transit agency. The IG has substantiated five allegations of time theft with the same pattern in the last two years. An employee would clock in for their shift and spend their days absent from their work site. 

Alicia Trost, a BART spokesperson, said the maintenance department sent out new policies around the employee check-in and check-out process to help improve expectations of accuracy and work schedule adherence.

“Time theft is a very serious matter. It is a violation of our rules and the law, and it undermines our credibility with the public,” Trost said. “We can’t comment on personnel matters, but we are grateful for the Office of the Inspector General for bringing these investigations to our attention.”

Last February, the inspector general released the results of an investigation of employee Timothy Edwards—whose name The Standard is reporting for the first time—which accused him of rampant time theft in his position helping to maintain the agency’s mechanical systems. 

The IG’s investigation found that Edwards would generally clock in near his work location, spend most of his shift away from the job site and go to a BART station near his home in Pleasanton to clock out. Other times, he would clock in and out of the site near his home regardless of whether he reported to work or not. 

The investigation also found that Edwards’ manager would also help make adjustments in the timekeeping system and may have been complicit in the misconduct. 

Using this system, Edwards earned more than double his base salary in 2022 due to additional overtime pay and other benefits. According to the Transparent California database, Edwards earned $341,000 in total pay and benefits in 2022, nearly triple his base salary of $117,305. 

Edwards resigned from his position shortly after learning that he was being investigated. Based on the evidence gathered through surveillance and their investigation, BART police arrested Edwards in January 2023. 

However, when BART police presented the case, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute, according to two sources with knowledge of the case. 

Alameda County prosecutors did not respond to a question about the office’s decision. Edwards declined to comment on the matter when reached by phone. 

In 2017, KTVU reported on a BART janitor named Liang Zhao Zhang, who earned some $271,000 in total compensation in 2015, more than four times his $58,000 base salary. 

Timecards obtained by the news station found that Zhang was paid for every single day in 2015, while regularly reporting multiple hours of overtime. After reviewing BART’s surveillance footage, KTVU found that Zhang regularly disappeared into a storage closet for hours at a time.

In response to the reporting, BART tamped down on overtime costs for its custodial staff and hired more employees. 

According to Transparent California’s most recent data, Zhang earned $166,256 in 2022, double his $84,192 base pay. 

The article has been updated to include a response from Alan Boie.