5 LIRR employees indicted on fraud, conspiracy charges in alleged OT pay scheme
Five Long Island Rail Road employees were indicted Thursday, accused of conspiracy and fraud that allegedly included reporting hours they didn't work, but got paid for.
Federal charges accuse the workers -- Thomas Caputo, Joseph Ruzzo, John Nugent, Joseph Balestra and Frank Pizzonia of stealing tens of thousands in overtime pay. The indictment says the group submitted labor sheets to the MTA with falsely reported hours and covered for each other's absences between 2017 and 2019.
Gerry Bringmann, with the LIRR Commuter Council, says these workers are innocent until proven guilty. But if they are found guilty, he says they should receive a harsh punishment.
"You're not just stealing from the railroad, you're stealing from all of us," he says. "You're stealing from riders who pay the fare box, stealing from local taxpayers."
The MTA sent News 12 a statement on the allegations, saying, "This alleged conduct – cheating the system and stealing hard-earned taxpayer dollars – is outrageous and goes against the values of the MTA and New York State."
The MTA says it has substantially improved overtime spending controls, leading to an aggressive reduction of approximately $200 million since 2018.
A sixth MTA worker, Michael Gunderson, is also being indicted for fraud in New York City.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says if convicted, each worker faces up to 10 years in jail. The defendants are expected to be arraigned next week.