Feds Probe Alleged Sanitation Slowdown During Blizzard

Anyone caught in a work stoppage could be charged with wire fraud, sources tell NBCNewYork

By Melissa Russo
|  Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011  |  Updated 1:24 PM EDT
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Melissa Russo reports

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The feds are looking into the possibility that sanitation workers may have committed crimes by deliberately slowing down work in the early stages of the blizzard cleanup, according to law enforcement sources.

Sources tell NBCNewYork that anyone caught in a work stoppage could be charged with wire fraud for collecting pay and overtime for work they did not perform.

Investigators from the U.S. Attorney's Eastern District are conducting the probe.

Sources in the Brooklyn District Attorney's office also confirm they are looking into reports that there may have been "problems with snow removal."

One example includes YouTube video of three sanitation trucks allegedly parked for many hours outside a Dunkin Donuts, while workers sat inside drinking coffee. 

(By the way, snow is in the forecast for Friday. Excited?)

Concerns were also raised that City Hall may have been leaderless when the blizzard hit, according to a front page story in Wednesday's Daily News.  Mayor Bloomberg, who often visits his Bermuda getaway on weekends, refused to say if he was away for the holiday weekend.   The deputy mayor usually tasked with snow cleanup -- Stephen Goldsmith -- was away in Washington.  Another deputy mayor, Howard Wolfson, was vacationing in London.

This potential leadership vacuum has led City Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens) to consider proposing a law requiring the mayor to formally notify the city clerk when he's out of town and has named a temporary replacement.

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