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No-show MBTA boss to spend year in jail

Inspector also hit with $10,000 fine

By Noah Bierman
Globe Staff / January 5, 2010

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Christopher Peatridge earned tens of thousands of dollars as owner of a security business that took him out of state for weeks at a time, during which he would stay at luxury hotels, authorities said.

But as he fulfilled his entrepreneurial duties, Peatridge had a backup job. He was on the MBTA payroll, submitting time sheets and collecting a salary as a construction supervisor for hours when he was far away from MBTA properties, according to authorities.

Peatridge was among three men who pleaded guilty late last week in connection with a no-show job investigation, according to a statement from the attorney general’s office, which conducted an investigation with the inspector general’s office.

Peatridge, 64, of Saugus, pleaded guilty Dec. 31 to two counts of presenting false claims and two counts of larceny over $250. Suffolk Superior Judge Carol S. Bell sentenced him to a year of incarceration, plus an additional 18 months that will be suspended. He also received probation and a $10,000 fine.

Michael O’Toole, 49, of Milton, and Francis Flaherty, 52, of South Boston, pleaded guilty Dec. 30 to charges of presentation of false claims and larceny. Each received a two-year suspended sentence and two years’ probation.

On the same day he admitted his guilt in court, O’Toole resigned his job as a court officer in Probate and Family Court, a court spokeswoman said yesterday.

Flaherty and Peatridge worked at Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority job sites as construction inspectors, and O’Toole was a resident engineer. All were required to be on site daily to oversee work by general contractors.

But the investigation, which began in 2005 and led to an indictment in 2008, found that Peatridge and O’Toole cheated on their time sheets on various days in 2004 and 2005, while Flaherty cheated on his in 2006.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said that O’Toole and Peatridge had retired and Flaherty was notified at the time of his indictment in September 2008 that he was suspended without pay.

Pesaturo said the dismissal process for Flaherty began last week with the guilty plea, in accordance with collective-bargaining rules.

The MBTA has had well-documented and extensive problems with construction projects that have been subject to extensive delays and cost overruns.

After the fraud accusations were made, the T’s design and construction division began a random job site inspection program to ensure that employees are performing their assigned duties, Pesaturo said in an e-mail.

Peatridge, a former union president, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Flaherty’s attorney, Timothy Flaherty, could not be reached for comment.

O’Toole’s lawyer, Tom Drechsler, said, “It was a very fair and equitable result. My client just wanted to put the matter behind him and move on.’’