A SEPTA maintenance manager fired for alleged overtime fraud is accused of charging the authority $21,359 in false overtime submissions from December 2018 through July 2019, according to a criminal complaint.
During the period, Ryan Kappler, 38 of Montgomery County, “intentionally created and reinforced a false impression by submitting numerous false overtime submissions to unlawfully receive money payments,” reads the complaint, filed last month. The incidents are alleged to have occurred “at or near” Fern Rock Transportation Center.
The amount the former maintenance manager allegedly collected in improper earnings and a timeline on the misconduct weren’t previously known.
Kappler worked for SEPTA since 2014 and was fired by the authority earlier this year after an investigation by SEPTA’s inspector general. The average base salary for his position as a frontline manager overseeing a crew of maintenance personnel within the authority’s buildings and bridges department ranges upwards of $70,000.
He was arrested by the SEPTA Transit Police Department on Sept. 22 and faces charges of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, and receiving stolen property, according to Municipal Court documents.
A recent WHYY investigation found excessive overtime spending at SEPTA caused major salary inflation for some employees, despite the agency facing deep financial challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As far as I’m aware, there isn’t another individual that I know who will be facing charges like this,” said SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch.
The authority said it “takes seriously any allegations of wage theft by employees,” in a statement to The Inquirer after Kappler’s arrest.
“SEPTA’s Inspector General opened an investigation into this matter as soon as information of alleged wrongdoing came to light," the statement said. “Soon thereafter, the case was referred to criminal authorities, and SEPTA terminated the individual’s employment.”
Kappler’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 28.
An ongoing federal probe into fraudulent spending at the authority is focused on a handful of managers who worked with an outside vendor to embezzle money using SEPTA credit cards, sources had told The Inquirer.