MTA chairman defends OT spending amid allegations of fraud

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MTA Chairman Pat Foye on Monday defended his agency’s response to charges of widespread overtime abuse — days after the feds arrested five workers for allegedly earning thousands of dollars for time they did not actually work.

“These are outrageous charges and on their face are, are shocking,” Foye said on WPIX of allegations the five men lied their way to annual OT payments of $240,000 or more.

But the appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted the MTA had gotten its act together since fiscal watchdog the Empire Center in 2019 exposed the outrageous earnings and the MTA’s swelling OT tab, which grew from $849 million in 2014 to $1.4 billion in 2018.

“When the overtime numbers for 2018 were announced in the spring of 2019, we convened a special meeting of the MTA board on overtime and we took action,” he said.

“In 2019 overtime compared to the prior year was down $92 million. In 2020 so far overtime is down $73 million… Over the next three or four years we expect to cut overtime by an additional couple 100 million dollars a year.”

But annual payroll records released by the Empire Center show the suspicious OT payments pre-dated 2018.

One of the men, LIRR worker Joseph Ruzzo, actually earned more OT in 2017 — $293,145 — than in 2018, when he raked in $267,907, according to the Empire Center.

John Kaehny of the good government group Reinvent Albany said the real shock was that transit officials did not address the alleged fraudsters’ pay packets until the Empire Center’s 2019 report.

“This is in plain sight total failure. We’re paying them, it’s in a database — and yet it takes an investigation by the Inspector General and US Attorney to bust them,” Kaehny said.

“What was management thinking when the guy was raking in $200,000 in OT? It’s a huge failure.”

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