Halloween was nearing, though fright night seemingly arrived ahead of schedule for Boston-area trolley driver Thomas Lucey.
Someone wearing a Michael Myers slasher horror mask jumped onto the city-run trolley Lucey was driving just before midnight on Oct. 30, 2016. The guy wore dark overalls, and carried a plastic trick-or-treat pumpkin.
Lucey and the masked marauder got into an argument, with the guy saying he didn’t have money for the trolley fare. The stranger hit Lucey in the head, then yanked him off the trolley. He repeatedly hit Lucy while he lay on the ground, then dashed away.
Grainy trolley security video seemed to confirm the claimed attack.
Halloween scream scheme
Except the mugging was a hoax — a Halloween scream scheme. Lucy set up the bogus beatdown to steal workers-compensation money from his employer, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
Lucey suffered PTSD and couldn’t work because he was worried about his safety, he said afterward. Lucey complained about frightening flashbacks, depression, panic attacks and anxiety. He had trouble sleeping, and suffered frequent nightmares.
Lucey never returned to work. He sought workers-compensation money to help heal from the seeming trauma. The graphic mugging seemed nightmarish and plausible. So the transit system started paying Lucey workers compensation and longterm disability money — more than $62,000 all told.
In fact, Lucey and a buddy met at a Hooters restaurant three days before the incident to plot out the creepy clash. Lucey promised the guy $2,000. He’d wait in the Michael Myers mask at a pre-arranged trolley stop just before midnight, and pretend to mug Lucey.
Pumpkin prints bust con
The friend was sloppy. He dropped the plastic pumpkin when he fled. Police found fingerprints, which led them to the mock mugger. He folded quickly under questioning, and spilled the plot.
The pair’s bank records confirmed deposits and withdrawals that matched the $2,000 hit fee. Phone records showed they communicated before and after the incident.
Lucey’s reward was three years in state prison for workers-compensation fraud and other crimes. His buddy wasn’t charged.
Lucey was a public employee. He committed insurance fraud to cheat the transport system — and taxpayers. All of that grated on Steve Poftak, manager of MBTA.
His setup scuffle was an “egregious breach of the public trust and a disservice to the thousands of MBTA employees who work hard every day to deliver safe and reliable transit services,” Poftak said.
About the author: Jim Quiggle is Director of Communications for the Coalition.