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Criminal charges after Caltrain station home scheme

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Criminal charges after Caltrain station home scheme

REDWOOD CITY — A former employee and former contractor for Caltrain have been charged with felonies after the transit agency uncovered a scheme in which they secretly spent taxpayer funds to build themselves small apartments inside two Peninsula train stations, according to authorities and court records.

Joseph Vincent Navarro, 66, formerly of the Bay Area and currently living in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and Seth Andrew Worden, a 61-year-old resident of the San Diego County city Oceanside, have been charged in San Mateo County Superior Court with misusing public funds in connection with the allegations.

Worden was arraigned Wednesday and released on his own recognizance, court records show. Navarro was scheduled to be arraigned Friday, which is when Worden is set to make another court appearance.

“The misuse of public funds for private use is a violation of the law, Caltrain policy and the public’s trust,” Caltrain Executive Director Michelle Bouchard said in a statement. “Caltrain investigates every claim of such misconduct, and in cases where there is evidence of unlawful conduct by an employee or a contractor, we immediately act to rectify the situation and hold the individuals who are responsible accountable.”

According to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, Navarro, formerly a deputy director for Caltrain, conspired with Worden and approved $42,000 in building expenses to remodel office space into a small apartment inside the Burlingame train station — designated a historic landmark in California — between 2019 and 2020.

Navarro’s living space reportedly featured a kitchen, shower, plumbing and security cameras. Prosecutors allege Navarro and Worden ensured that no invoice surpassed $3,000, a spending threshold that if surpassed would have required further authorization from Caltrain and TransAmerica Services Inc., the firm that employed Worden.

The criminal complaint alleges that Worden used $8,000 in taxpayer funds to build himself similar living quarters inside the Millbrae train station.

Worden was caught first, in 2020, after employees discovered the converted space, authorities said. But the transit agency was reportedly unaware of Navarro’s place in Burlingame until getting an anonymous tip in 2022.



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