NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Overtime abuse at the MTA and the LIRR are now the subject of a federal probe.
Sources say the inquiry is also looking into outdated time keeping that includes handwritten bookkeeping practices from the 19th century, reports CBS2 political reporter Marica Kramer.
MTA managers are refusing to comment about a decision by the feds to launch a probe of the agency’s overtime scandal, but the head of the board’s finance committee is saying: Right on.
“I applaud the U.S. attorney for getting involved and I hope, quite frankly, that the U.S. attorney expands their investigation,” said MTA board member Larry Schwartz.
It seems the people involved in the MTA overtime scandal may not get off with a “token” slap on the wrist after all.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman was apparently listening when Schwartz and Gov. Andrew Cuomo were sounding off about excessive overtime at the MTA and the Long Island Rail Road.
Sources say Berman’s office has now subpoenaed the pay records of more than a dozen Long Island Rail Road and New York City transit employees with overtime hauls that were jaw dropping
Top of the list? An LIRR employee who took home nearly $462,000 last year: $344,000 in overtime, a mind boggling 3,800 hours.
“Look this isn’t about overtime, this is about stealing, this is about fraud, it’s about theft,” said Schwartz.
Also under federal scrutiny, sources say, the MTA’s time and attendance payroll system.
Prosecutors looking at time keeping machines that in some departments date back to the 1800s and use handwritten records.
Agency sources telling CBS2 that while some departments did purchase modern machines better able to detect fraud, fear of worker backlash prevent them from being installed.
“It’s inexcusable that we don’t have modern time and attendance systems at every location,” said Schwartz. “We’ve lost the public trust and confidence of the people who ride the subway system. We need to gain it back.”
John Samuelson, international president of the Transport Workers Union, responded to the scandal by saying: “Transit workers are the hardworking pillars of NYC’s working neighborhoods and attempts to portray them otherwise is disgraceful and downright slanderous.”
Anthony Simon, the general chairman of SMART, the LIRR Workers Union, said: “I have said all along we do not condone bad behavior. We are going to focus on working hard to deliver the service our riders want and deserve.”
Schwartz says that someone – the feds, the MTA inspector general or an independent prosecutor hired by the board – should look at who in management signed off on excessive overtime.