MTA time clock smasher caught, forced to repay $2,500 for damage

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MTA investigators have caught the vandal who smashed a time clock at New York City Transit headquarters last October, the agency’s watchdog said Friday.

The employee — who was not named — agreed to pay $2,500 restitution and retired, side-stepping further disciplinary action, MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny said.

The Oct. 24, 2019, clock-smash at the subway and bus division’s Brooklyn headquarters was one of 20 incidents of damaged time clocks reported to the IG’s office between June 2019 and March 2020, according to an IG report released Friday.

Of 13 incidents investigated as vandalism, six appeared to have been deliberate, the IG said. Another four appear to have been accidents, while investigators could not determine the cause of two others.

“Vandalizing timekeeping clocks is outrageous and an insult to riders, taxpayers, and hardworking MTA employees who just want to do the right thing,” Pokorny said in a statement.

Transit officials installed the fingerprint-enabled clocks at a rapid pace over the last year after a third-party report pinned the MTA’s outrageous overtime costs on archaic timekeeping methods.

But rollout of the modern time-keepers has stalled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pokorny’s office said — as has integration of the clocks with the agency’s actual payroll systems.

“The MTA has yet to tackle some of the most important steps for management reform, and that worries us,” Pokorny told the MTA board on Wednesday.

“Management is still relying on paper records and an honor system throughout large parts of the system.”

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The MTA time clock that was vandalized in October 2019.

Gabriella Bass

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Gabriella Bass

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The new report also accuses the MTA of lying to itself about progress on her office’s 2019 recommendation that the agency distribute monthly over-time “high-roller” reports to managers to “curtail unreasonable hours.”

While the MTA’s official overtime task force claimed to have distributed the monthly reports, most managers interviewed by the IG’s office said they never received them. Many didn’t even know the reports existed.

Pokorny began investigating allegations of overtime abuse at the MTA following a series of Post exposés on LIRR workers pulling in huge paychecks, including one staffer who raked in $344,147 in overtime — on top of his $117,499 salary.

MTA overtime spending surged in recent years, ballooning from $849 million in 2014 to $1.3 billion in 2019.

The MTA’s overtime spending is 9 percent lower this year compared to last year — a difference of about $70 million.

“As the Inspector General notes, most recommended reforms have already been implemented even during a pandemic, and results are clear: overtime expense was reduced by $70 million in the first nine months of this year, with another $200 million projected to be cut in 2021,” MTA rep Meredith Daniels said in a statement.

“Additionally, the MTA is rolling out an overtime dashboard — a new tool developed internally — that will further empower senior managers to control and reduce costs.”

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