Two railway workers in the Bay Area are facing felony charges for allegedly building secret apartments in two train stations.

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It gives a whole new meaning to the term “railroad-style apartment.”

Two railway workers in the Bay Area are facing felony charges for allegedly building secret apartments in two train stations.

According to the San Jose Mercury Newsthe two railway workers have been accused by prosecutors in San Mateo of secretly converting two offices to apartments in the Burlingame and Millbrae stations south of San Francisco. Former Caltrain Deputy Director Joseph Navarro, along with contractor Seth Andrew Worden, face felony charges of misusing public funds, which could net them each a maximum of four years in prison if convicted.

Worden is a 61-year-old resident of San Diego County. He was arraigned on March 27 and pleaded not guilty, according to reports. Navara, a 66-year-old former resident of the Bay Area who now lives in Pennsylvania, is scheduled to be arraigned April 29. Worden’s attorney has declined to comment on the case, according to the Mercury News. 

Transit workers found the Millbrae apartment in 2020 but didn’t uncover the Burlingame station hideaway until 2022 when officials received an anonymous tip. Both were fired from Caltrain when their apartments were discovered, with Worden getting the boot when the Millbrae apartment was discovered and Navarro when the Burlingame hideaway was found.

According to prosecutors, Navarro and Worden allegedly conspired to approve $42,000 in public building funds to remodel the two office spaces into apartments. The pair allegedly ensured no invoices exceeded $3,000, a threshold that would have required further approval from Caltrain.

The criminal complaint also alleges that Worden used $8,000 of taxpayer funds to build himself a small apartment in the Millbrae station.

The would-be developers received some admiration in online pro-housing circles for their ability to build apartments on the cheap in a state with notoriously high construction costs.

“Hire that man to build affordable housing,” Mark Dinan, an East Palo Alto-based recruiter wrote on X. “$42k for an apartment!”

Email Ben Verde

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