MARTA Breeze Card Scheme Suspect Has 47 Prior Arrests


ATLANTA - A man accused of collecting and keeping fares from MARTA customers and then letting them go through the fare gates is now behind bars.

Robert Gillespie, 48, was arrested by MARTA police at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday morning.

Clayton County Chief Magistrate Court Judge Daphne Walker told Gillespie why he was arrested.

"You attempted to allow patrons to enter into the Airport Station by using your Breeze Card and collecting the patrons' fares," she said.

Channel 2's Tom Jones talked to a man who said Gillespie asked him to give him money to allow him to go through the fare gates.

"I gave him a few dollars," Imam Chad Akbar said. "In my case, he allowed me to go through and I would compensate him but I did that once, maybe," he explained.

A source at MARTA said Gillespie would often charge people $1 to get through the gates.

MARTA police said Gillespie has a history of taking patrons' money and then letting them go through the fare gates.

Officers arrested Gillespie at the Midtown MARTA station and charged him with stealing fares, just one week ago. They said he had 27 expired breeze cards on him at the time.

The judge set bond at $15,000 because of Gillespie's extensive criminal history.

"And I am showing that (you) have 47 prior arrests," Walker said.

It was not clear how many of the arrests were related to the Breeze Card fare scheme and MARTA.

But police said they were familiar enough with Gillespie that they have ordered him to stay away from the Airport MARTA station and the airport, unless he's there for travel.

Akbar said he gave Gillespie money to help him out since he looked like he was down on his luck.

"It was a form of charity for me," Akbar said.

But MARTA customer Lorraine Parchment said that's not the way to help out.

"That's not how you give charity. Somebody standing there asking you for your money like that. That's false pretenses. You don't do that," she said.

MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris sent a statement about Gillespie's arrest that read, "MARTA takes crimes very seriously. We simply will not tolerate this type of activity which amounts to the theft of the hard-working money from our paying customers and taxpayers."

Gillespie faces charges of criminal trespass and public transit-prohibited acts.

Channel 2 Action News

Delivered To Your Inbox