A city man has pleaded guilty to charges that his school bus company employed drivers without conducting required criminal background checks --- and in one case, hired a driver who didn't even have a license.
Martin W. Betchy, 36, of Haler Heights pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of insurance fraud, theft by deception and endangering the welfare of children, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a prepared release.
Sentencing for Betchy has been scheduled for June 28 before Allegheny County Judge Ed Borkowski, Shapiro said. Court records indicate that Betchy is currently free in lieu of $15,000 bond.
Betchy was the owner of Three Rivers Transit LLC, which beginning in 2012 had a contract to transport children to and from Propel Schools.
State investigators claimed that one of Three Rivers Transit's drivers was taking four students to a school for special-needs children, but never passed a driver's test or obtained a driver's license.
Another driver worked for the company for more than a year while her license was suspended for drunken-driving, while a third driver was in an accident with a student in the vehicle, but provided false information to an insurance company to try and obtain coverage for damages caused by the accident.
Betchy himself was cited several times for traffic and safety violations, according to court records.
“My office will hold anyone accountable who fails to properly protect children entrusted to their care,” Shapiro said. “Not only did Betchy endanger the welfare of children, but when people commit insurance fraud, they cause premiums to rise for everyone else who follow the rules. It’s wrong, and we’re taking action to stop it.”
State investigators served Betchy with a search warrant in November 2016 and charged him one month later.
At the time, a Propel schools spokeswoman told Tube City Almanac that Betchy's contract had been terminated, but declined to say when the charter school became aware of any deficiencies in Three Rivers Transit's operations.
The charter school paid Betchy $2.4 million for his services, Shapiro said.
Originally published April 10, 2018.