HomeWire ReportsPa. AG’s Office: School Transport Co. Owner Hired Drivers With Criminal Records

Pa. AG’s Office: School Transport Co. Owner Hired Drivers With Criminal Records

The owner of an Allegheny County-based transportation company serving charter schools has been charged by the state Attorney General’s office with hiring drivers who have criminal records to transport children, and using improperly insured vehicles, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Martin W. Betchy, 35, of McKeesport, who owns Three Rivers Transit, LLC., is charged with 13 offenses including theft by deception, insurance fraud and endangering the welfare of children, the attorney general’s office announced today.

“The conduct of this individual put many innocent children at risk,” Attorney General Bruce Beemer said in a statement. “There are safeguards in place to ensure that the people trusted with transporting school students are qualified and suitable drivers. Those necessary protections were ignored time after time as this individual acted with disregard for the law and the safety of these children.”

The AG’s office said Betchy did not perform required background checks on his drivers, including obtaining child-abuse clearances.

“As a result,” the office said, “many of the drivers that worked for Betchy had criminal convictions.”

Investigators found drivers who had convictions for robbery, aggravated assault, identity theft, burglary, drug possession and driving under the influence, according to the statement.

Betchy’s company has a contract with Propel, which has 11 charter schools that enroll 3,700 students in Allegheny County, the attorney general’s office said. Over the past five years, Mr. Betchy was paid about $2.4 million, according to the statement.

Propel spokeswoman Kelly Wall today said the school network terminated its contract with the transit company “effective immediately.”

Charges have been filed with the office of District Judge Eugene F. Riazzi, Jr. in McKeesport.

“We have been in contact with his attorney regarding his surrender, which is expected to occur tomorrow,” said Jeffrey Johnson, a spokesman for the AG’s office.

The investigation revealed that vehicles used by Mr. Betchy for Three Rivers Transit were covered by personal insurance policies rather than commercial policies and were not registered under the corporation, the attorney general’s office said.

“One of his drivers caused a multi-vehicle crash in January 2015 in which a 9-year-old student suffered a concussion, the AG’s office said. The minivan being used was not properly insured, leaving the mother’s automobile insurance carrier to pay for his medical care, according to investigators.

The investigation is ongoing.

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