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September 27, 2010

 

DiNapoli: NFTA Officers Cheated Taxpayers in "Double Dipping" Scheme


Numerous Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) police officers systematically abandoned their assigned duty posts to go to work at other jobs while being paid by the authority, a practice that was condoned and participated in by high-ranking officers, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“This was an egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars,” DiNapoli said. “These officers are sworn to uphold the law and protect the public. Instead, they treated their oath of duty as a license to enrich themselves.  No one can do two jobs at once and taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for cops who aren’t on the job.  The NFTA needs to do a much better job rooting out time and attendance abuse in its police force.”

DiNapoli’s auditors identified 11 officers who practiced “double dipping” over a three-year period, cheating the public out of a full-day’s work.  One of the officers involved was also the department’s internal affairs officer during the time he was double dipping, and most of the officers involved were among the top overtime earners within the department. In one of the more egregious examples, a lieutenant claimed he worked 26 hours during a single day.

Auditors found that nine NFTA officers, including supervisors, worked for the City of Buffalo Board of Education at football games on Thanksgiving Day in 2006, 2007 and 2008, while being signed in for their regular scheduled shifts with the Transportation Authority. The double-dippers included a captain who was second-in-command at the department.  In 2007, three police officers worked at the Board of Education’s McKinley Basketball Tournament when they were supposed to be on patrol for the Transportation Authority.

Auditors discovered that some officers signed in for overtime while being on the clock as security officers for the Erie County Community College, and one supervisor claimed to work three consecutive shifts in a 24-hour period, with two of the shifts being paid at overtime rates.



The audit recommends NFTA officials:
  • Appoint a committee to properly investigate time and attendance abuse in the Transit Police Department.
  • Take action against the police officers involved in the double dipping.
  • Change the culture in the Transit Police Department.
  • Monitor the officers’ second job work hours to ensure officers are not working a second job during Transportation Authority scheduled work hours.

NFTA officials generally agreed with the audit’s recommendations and indicated they have already taken steps to better monitor the police department and change its culture.  DiNapoli said his office’s Investigations Unit is continuing to investigate the abuses for possible referral to law enforcement.

DiNapoli’s retirement division is following up on the audit’s findings to make sure the officers only receive credit for the service and earnings to which they are entitled.

Click here for a copy of the complete audit.

DiNapoli is encouraging the public to help fight against fraud and abuse.  New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud, corruption and abuse of taxpayer money by: calling the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555; filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us, or mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller Investigations Unit, 110 State Street, 14th floor, Albany, NY 12236.


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