SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --Albert Williams, 61, who is a 20-year SFMTA employee pleaded not guilty Thursday to embezzlement charges and is being held on $50,000 bail.
The San Francisco District Attorney's Office said Williams pocketed $919 and possibly much more over the last five years.
Williams was a cable car conductor for 15 of his 20 years at SFMTA.
A November 2016 audit uncovered the theft. SFMTA turned the information over to the Controller's Office and SFPD.
SFMTA's Director of Transit John Haley says Williams used various schemes to hide the true amount of cash he collected including not giving passengers receipts after taking their money. "That was the red flag," said Haley. "This agency is outraged his co-workers are outraged and disappointment doesn't even begin to describe it."
In looking back five years, the San Francisco DA's Office says Williams had exceedingly lower totals on the same route and same shift as other conductors, so investigators are now trying to determine the total amount Williams may have pocketed and how far back.
In court, the judge said Williams had six prior misdemeanor convictions mostly for theft and 37 aliases.
SFMTA says it learned of Williams' criminal background during the police investigation, but it's unclear what the Department of Human Resources knew when the agency hired Williams 20 yrs ago. "I'm concerned because it makes us all look bad," said SFMTA employee Jason Calacal.
The DA's Office also says SFPD executed a search warrant at Williams' home and found $32,000 cash in a safe, receipts for high-end purchases, multiple cars and packed luggage. "This is an affront to the entire agency, to the city and we're glad we've been able to play a role in stopping him," said Haley.
The agency says it is moving towards cashless options for all cable car lines.