Two Former HRT Employees Plead Guilty to Embezzling Close to $50,000; Commonwealth v. Karen Watkins; Commonwealth v. Latasha Kiana Boyd

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Karen Watkins, 24 years old, of W. 32nd Street in Norfolk, Virginia pled guilty to Embezzlement before Circuit Court Judge Patricia L. West.   Further, Bryant announced that Latasha Kiana Boyd, 24 years old, of Margate Avenue in Virginia Beach, Virginia, also pled guilty to Embezzlement before Judge West.  Presentence reports were ordered and the sentencing will take place on April 25, 2012. 

Had these matters gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that between January 1, 2009, and October 31, 2009, Watkins and Boyd together embezzled close to $50,000 from Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) while employed there as “vault pullers”.  Buses and trolleys in Virginia Beach used the station at 1400 Parks Avenue in Virginia Beach as a collection site for bus and trolley fares. As part of their duties as vault pullers, Boyd and Watkins regularly visited the Parks Avenue trolley station to collect money from a vault and deliver it to a money room in Norfolk, Virginia, for counting.  When money was pulled from the vault, it was housed in a sealed container; however, the container at the trolley station was not sealed.  This allowed access to the money, which was mainly in one dollar bills. 

HRT discovered numerous discrepancies in the electronic data downloaded from the buses at the trolley station and the actual amount of money counted at the Norfolk location.  The discrepancies occurred when Boyd and Watkins were working shifts as vault pullers and no security guard was with them.  On August 29, 2009, HRT security personnel observed Boyd and a co-worker drive the HRT money van from the trolley station to a home before arriving at the money room in Norfolk.  After further investigation, Boyd and Watkins were suspended from HRT. No discrepancies in collection amounts were found after their suspension.  Between January and October 2009, both women made frequent cash deposits of one dollar bills into their bank accounts.

The investigation revealed that Boyd took $24,414.00 and Watkins took $23,969.00.  Boyd’s 2009 tax return shows a total income of $16,850.00, and a review of her bank statements from 2009 indicates she deposited $46,007.00.  Watkins’ 2009 tax return shows a total income of $18,827.00, and a review of her bank statements indicated she deposited $45,962.00. 

“A special grand jury was impaneled to hear evidence in this case and returned indictments for embezzlement against these two former employees” Bryant said.  “They could not and did not consider activity by Boyd and Watkins or other HRT employees that may or may not have occurred in the HRT offices or other locations outside of their Virginia Beach jurisdiction.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey L. Bryant and Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin D. Stolle prosecuted the cases.  Please call Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.