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CATS CFO resigns, investigation turned over to DA

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BATON ROUGE - The chief financial officer for the Capital Area Transit System resigned this afternoon.

In a letter sent Friday to his boss CATS CEO Bob Mirabito, Gary Owens doesn't explain why he's leaving.

During a scheduled press conference, Mirabito wouldn't answer questions about Owens' resignation or if $101,860 in missing bus fares had anything to do with his departure.

"He resigned and I will not make any further comments about personnel matters. That's confidential," Mirabito repeated.

Mirabito did not set a timeline to fill Owens' position, but plans to have a new program manager in place by December.

CATS recently turned an internal investigation into the missing money over to the district attorney's office. Originally Owens thought a "computer glitch" was to blame, but the bus system still cannot determine how thousands of dollars went missing.

"The probability of theft becomes a lot greater since we've had a clean audit for the last four weeks. We have not in our review identified any one individual. But then again we are not an investigative body so we've turned it over to the proper authorities," Mirabito said.

The DA's office will monitor the other investigations joining the Legislative Auditor, Baton Rouge Police and the Inspector General. None of those agencies have said specifically what their investigations show.

Baton Rouge Police Spokesperson Don Kelly quoted a July 25 statement and said, "We are working jointly with the Louisiana Office of State Inspector General to investigate allegations of possible financial crimes involving CATS monies, but it is still early in the investigation and at this time no charges have been filed against anyone. If and when it reaches the point of criminal charges, I'm sure you and the rest of the media will be informed in a timely manner."

Mirabito outlined several new security measures he thinks will prevent bus fare revenue from going missing in the future. CATS added more cameras in the accounting room, repaired all vault receivers, created more accountability measures among employees, and put a process in place to remove all money from buses daily. 

Mirabito also announced four public meetings scheduled to begin Sept. 23 to highlight route designs and upcoming changes to the system. CATS will soon hire 70 new operators to support the routes and system. Fare for Touchdown Express, the line used on LSU home football game days, will also increase to $10 because CATS was not awarded a grant it received in the past which covered those costs.





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