Top transit investigators say a supervisor working for the MTA skipped out on tolls during a ten-year period that culminated in fees and fines over $101,000.
The MTA's Office of the Inspector General released a 20-page report Monday detailing a full investigation following an anonymous tip submitted last year that an Assistant General Superintendent had bragged to colleagues about dodging tolls.
An investigation spanning the end of 2020 and early months of 2021 corroborated the tip and determined that the employee lied to officials in interviews and email correspondence during the official investigation.
The five-year veteran of the MTA used a cloudy plastic cover over the rear license plate of his personal vehicle to avoid paying bridge and tunnel tolls in and out of the city, the inspector general report found. The car was also without a front license plate; both are violations of state laws.
Reviewing records between February 2011 and September 2020, investigators determined the Assistant General Superintendent owed $9,000 in tolls and $92,000 in fines to three separate tolling agencies.
“MTA management is supposed to model ethical behavior, not violate it,” said MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny in a press release. “That a supervisor would unscrupulously steal toll dollars from New Yorkers –and have the nerve to brag about it on the job – is a slap in the face to the rest of the dedicated, hardworking MTA employees who keep New York moving.”
The report also went into great detail of the employee's lies in an attempt to cover up or evade possible repercussions. Investigators said the man claimed he could not open an EZPass account in 2018 due to an account suspension; no such suspension existed, the report said. He also claimed to be unaware of the lengthy fines owed to the tolling agencies, an impossibility due to extensive notices sent through the mail notifying him of said fees and fines, the report said. And investigators caught him in a third lie about why his front plate was missing by corroborating reports with the man's repair shop.
The investigators delivered their findings and recommended the employee face disciplinary action up to and including termination, as well as a full recovery of the fines owed.
The press release distributed Monday states the employee received a demotion to his previous title of Superintendent, a 12-week suspension between May and August without pay, and a settlement order to pay $10,000 in restitution.
MTA Spokesperson Michael Cortez confirmed the employee's demotion and restitution payment.
"“This reprehensible conduct is an alleged violation of public trust that has no place at the MTA. Our Bridge and Tunnel officers regularly stop vehicles with fake and obscured license plates, regardless of who is perpetrating the theft of public funds," Cortez said.