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Caltrain conductor accused of soliciting sex for train ride

Published on 1/12/2011

A Caltrain conductor is accused of offering to waive fines for ticketless female passengers on two separate occasions if they agreed to provide him sexual favors, officials said Wednesday.

In both cases, Ricardo Arias Cano, 60, is suspected of taking the passengers, one of them a 16-year-old girl, to a secluded part of the train before making his proposal, said Dave Triolo, head of the transit police. Neither rider had any sexual contact with him, and both reported the encounter to authorities.

After a warrant was issued for his arrest, Cano was taken into custody at his South San Francisco home Dec. 30. When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Cano hung up before making any comment.

In the most recent incident, which happened Nov. 27, Cano discovered a 16-year-old girl didn't have a ticket and made the offer as the train traveled near Palo Alto, according to police. She immediately reported the proposition, and an investigation was launched.

While looking into that allegation, authorities discovered a second incident involving a woman aboard a Caltrain on April 24, said supervising deputy district attorney Steve Fein of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. He declined to provide that woman's age.

Cano faces a felony charge of communicating with a minor with the intent of committing a sex act, Fein said. He is also charged with annoying a child, performing a lewd act in public and two counts of false imprisonment. Those charges are misdemeanors.

"He used his position of authority to make inappropriate propositions to these people," Fein said.

Cano, an employee of Amtrak who works for Caltrain under contract, is now forbidden from setting foot on the property of the commuter railroad. He has also been removed from service without pay pending an investigation by Amtrak into the complaint, said Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham, who added that the railroad has strong policies against the alleged behavior and declined any further comment.

Cano had worked for Caltrain since at least 1992 and made $102,700 in 2009, according to public records.

He is out of custody on $55,000 bail and is due in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Jan. 27 for arraignment.