A school transit company with a $2.4 million contract to provide rides to special needs students in a Pittsburgh-area charter school network has been charged with failing to properly insure some vehicles and hiring drivers with criminal records by ignoring state-mandated background checks.
Martin Betchy, 35, didn’t immediately return a call for comment after the state attorney general announced the charges Wednesday against Betchy and his company, Three Rivers Transit LLC, in McKeesport. Betchy’s home phone was disconnected.
Betchy is scheduled to surrender for arraignment Thursday on charges including deceptive business practices, theft by deception, insurance fraud and child endangerment, the attorney general said.
Betchy’s company had the contract with Propel Schools since January 2012. Kelly Wall, a spokeswoman for the schools, said the contract has been terminated.
Only 55 of Propel’s 3,700 students with “specialized transportation needs” – which Wall would not detail – got rides from the McKeesport company. Propel has temporary transit in place for those students and expects to have a new transit company under contract Jan. 4, after school resumes following the holiday break, Wall said.
According to a criminal complaint, some Three Rivers Transit vehicles were insured with personal policies, not commercial policies, which meant passengers got stuck paying bills if they were injured in crashes. The lack of background checks allegedly led to drivers having criminal records and, sometimes, invalid driver’s licenses, state investigators charged.
Attorney General Bruce Beemer stressed that the investigation is ongoing.
A 9-year-old child suffered a concussion when one of Betchy’s drivers caused a multi-vehicle crash in January 2015. The child’s mother wound up having to file a claim with her auto insurance to cover the child’s medical expenses, because the transit vehicle wasn’t properly insured, investigators said.
Betchy’s drivers included one with a record for robbery and aggravated assault, and another for identity theft and burglary, according to the complaint. Beemer said many drivers had arrest records for drug possession or driving under the influence, leaving them without valid driver’s licenses.
“Propel Schools is not the focus of the investigation and cannot comment further due to the ongoing legal process,” Wall said.
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