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Call for VRE audit rejected
FBI investigating former VRE employee for potential fraud and Susan Stimpson, VRE board member and Stafford supervisor, asks for an independent audit of the commuter rail service

 The FBI is investigating an anonymous tip that alleged that a former VRE employee was receiving kickbacks.
FILE/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 8/18/2012

BY SCOTT SHENK

The Virginia Railway Express operations board chose a new CEO Friday, but that news took a back seat to the FBI investigation into a former VRE employee and calls for an independent audit of the commuter rail service.

The board spent most of Friday's meeting mired in talks about whether it needed an independent audit after Susan Stimpson, a member of the VRE board and the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, called for one.

The Washington Post first reported on the FBI investigation, sparked by an anonymous email alleging kickbacks for maintenance contracting work.

The former employee in question was the facilities manager. VRE fired him in January.

Spokesman Mark Roeber said VRE has been cooperating with authorities and that they want the situation to be resolved.

He said VRE initially contacted Alexandria Police after receiving the email. The police department, he said, found that the situation "was outside of their scope and jurisdiction." The FBI then took over the investigation.

The investigation is focused on a company the former employee owned that allegedly was tied to a subcontractor doing maintenance and custodial work for VRE

Roeber said the investigation doesn't involve VRE.

"One rogue employee isn't an indictment of VRE," he said.

Stimpson, however, thinks an outside auditor should look into the company's financial workings.

She made a motion during Friday's meeting to bring in an independent auditor, but it failed in a nearly deadlocked vote. Members with the Northern Virginia jurisdictions voted against the motion, while Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Stafford members voted for it. Kevin Page, CEO of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, also voted for the motion.

During a discussion of bringing in a third-party auditor, VRE board member Christopher Zimmerman, who represents Arlington County, said they should instead let the FBI investigation play out.

Stimpson later said that misses the point.


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