MTA workers charged with faking inspection records: Officials
Ten MTA workers have been charged with fudging subway inspections for nearly two years, officials said Monday.
Two supervisors and eight signal maintainers were charged in the agency's "Signalgate" scheme, accused of claiming to have inspected signals that they never checked at least 33 times in 2009 and 2010, according to prosecutors.
The maintainers are supposed to scan bar codes attached to signals along subway tracks as they inspect them to prove they have been checked and that the equipment is safe. But prosecutors have accused worker Anthony Pellegrino, 29, of getting his hands on some bar codes and keeping them in his locker. They also allege that Oscar Magalong, a 52-year-old supervisor, told workers to say they had inspected more signals than they had. The scam was busted after a joint investigation by the MTA's Inspector General and the Manhattan district attorney.
"Failing to properly inspect the subway system can lead to delays in service and, potentially, endanger the safety of subway riders," Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said in a statement. "No matter how lax an agency's internal controls might be, tampering with public records to cover up a failure to inspect signal equipment is never acceptable conduct."
The MTA workers were all released without having to post bail after pleading not guilty to the charges Monday. Arthur Schwartz, the lawyer representing most of the workers, did not return a message for comment Monday.
The workers' union said they were being used as "scapegoats for the illegitimate actions" of upper management.
An MTA spokesman blasted the union's accusation as "utter nonsense," saying, "The actions taken by these 10 individuals occurred under their own volition."
A source close to the investigation said the falsified records seemed to be an "isolated" problem, and that it did not appear that MTA management was involved in the bogus record-keeping scheme.