FTA Debars Pennsylvania Transit Company and Its Owner for 36 Months
On February 19, 2016, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) debarred Robert Else and King Coal Tours, Inc., for a period of 3 years. Else, the former President of King Coal Tours, was convicted in November 2015, for his role in an FTA grant fraud scheme.
FTA provided grant funds through PennDOT to local Pennsylvania communities, including Mount Carmel Borough, in order to develop and maintain public transportation systems. Mount Carmel, through its transportation service agency, the Lower Anthracite Transportation System (LATS), entered into annual contracts with King Coal Tours. King Coal Tours primarily operated as a charter bus business, but they entered into annual cost-plus contracts with Mount Carmel to provide public transportation services to LATS between 1984 and 2012.
Robert Else admitted that he overbilled and submitted false invoices for expenses incurred on buses used in his private tour business, which did not fall under the LATS contract. The investigation specifically revealed that Robert Else and King Coal Tours overbilled for approximately 68,745 gallons of tax-free diesel fuel, inflated invoices for approximately 120 replacement tires, billed parts and labor hours related to maintenance charter buses, and illicitly billed for administrative hours for office personnel. The plea agreement indicates restitution will be made in an amount up to $500,000.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the FBI with assistance from FTA.
Note: Exclusion actions (suspensions and debarments) are frequently for a specific period of time and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation should be consulted to find whether this company is currently excluded.