Former Caltrain Employee and Contractor Charged with Misusing Public Funds to Build Secret Apartments in Peninsula Train Stations

REDWOOD CITY — Joseph Vincent Navarro, a former deputy director for Caltrain, and Seth Andrew Worden, a contractor, have been charged with felonies after allegedly using taxpayer funds to construct hidden apartments within two Peninsula train stations. The charges were filed in San Mateo County Superior Court, according to authorities and court records.

Navarro, 66, currently residing in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and Worden, 61, from Oceanside, San Diego County, are accused of misusing public funds in connection with the scheme. Caltrain, the transit agency, uncovered the misconduct and promptly reported it to the authorities.

According to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, Navarro and Worden conspired to remodel office space into small apartments inside the Burlingame and Millbrae train stations. The Burlingame station, designated as a historic landmark in California, was allegedly converted between 2019 and 2020, with Navarro’s living space equipped with a kitchen, shower, plumbing, and security cameras.

Prosecutors claim that Navarro and Worden ensured that no invoice exceeded $3,000, a threshold that would have required additional authorization from Caltrain and TransAmerica Services Inc., the company employing Worden. Worden was the first to be caught in 2020 when employees discovered the converted space at the Millbrae station. However, Navarro’s involvement in the Burlingame station only came to light in 2022 after an anonymous tip was received.

Navarro was subsequently fired after admitting to occasionally using the station as his residence, although prosecutors allege that he primarily resided in the small apartment. Caltrain promptly alerted the district attorney’s office, leading to the filing of criminal charges.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe highlighted the deliberate tactic of keeping invoice amounts below a specific threshold, indicating the defendants’ awareness of their actions. He emphasized that even small misappropriations of public funds constitute a felony offense, and the fact that the misconduct occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic suggests an attempt to exploit the situation.

Worden’s attorney has not yet responded to requests for comment. If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

The misuse of public funds for personal gain is a violation of the law, Caltrain policy, and the public’s trust, stated Caltrain Executive Director Michelle Bouchard. The agency remains committed to investigating any allegations of misconduct and holding those responsible accountable.

Author: CrimeDoor

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