One New York City subway employee spent quite a bit of time on the rails last year, so much that he racked up nearly half-a-million dollars in pay and overtime.
A new study from the financial watchdog group Empire Center found that the city’s public transportation authority spent a total of $418 million in overtime to employees over the course of 2018, including $344,000 to one man: Thomas Caputo, the chief measurements operator for the Long Island Railroad. As the Independent reported, the study that was released late last month has now sparked a federal investigation.
As the New York Post noted, Caputo had gained quite a bit of notoriety for his massive overtime while working the rails. The report noted that federal prosecutors in Manhattan subpoenaed pay records for the recently retired employee along with more than a dozen other employees of the LIRR. Another employee, track worker, Marco Pazmino, reportedly logged 4,157 hours of overtime last year, quadrupling his base salary to a total of $256,177. That would mean Pazmino worked an average of nearly 80 hours of overtime each week alone, about 11 additional hours of work a day.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office’s public corruption unit are reportedly on the case, with the Queens District Attorney launching a separate probe in coordination with the MTA inspector general.
The antiquated method of keeping hours for employees may be part of it, the New York Post reported. MTA workers still keep time by hand, as employees have resisted moving to more technologically advanced machines that are more capable of detecting fraud and abuse.
The union that represents subway employees pushed back against allegations of fraud.
“There is no evidence of systematic abuse or criminality or fraud at New York City Transit,” John Samuelsen, who heads the Transport Workers Union, told the New York Times. “This is putting the cart before the horse.”
This is not the first time that the exorbitant overtime pay of New York City employees generated nationwide interest. As The Inquisitr reported last year, the city’s highest-paid public employee for 2017 was not Mayor Bill de Blasio or the police commissioner, but instead a sewer worker named Bhavesh Patel. He was able to pull in $539,098 in wages thanks to logging 1,991 hours of overtime on top of his 2,086 regular hours. That means that Patel was working nearly 16 hours every day — all of it in and around the sewers of one of the biggest cities in the world.