Union slams DA for not going after MTA officials in test-faking case
The union representing MTA workers who are expected to be arrested later this week for allegedly faking subway signal inspections is livid with prosecutors for not going after agency officials and supervisors.
The Daily News reported Wednesday that eight workers and two low-level supervisors were expected to surrender this week on charges they tampered with official records and for misconduct. A source confirmed to amNewYork that the arrests were expected Friday.
Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen said he was “outraged” with the Manhattan district attorney for only pursuing charges against workers, instead of senior MTA employees.
“We demand to know why the District Attorney has absolved senior managers and why our signal maintainers are being targeted for the flawed, corrupt way signal management operated,” Samuelsen said Wednesday.
The charges stem from a 2010 investigation by the MTA’s Inspector General into allegations that signal maintainers fudged tests to make it look like they inspected signals they hadn’t checked.
Oscar Magalong and Chandrapaul Hariprashad, the two low-level supervisors the Daily News report said would be arrested, did not return calls for comment Wednesday. The Manhattan DA and MTA Inspector General’s offices declined to comment on the case.
John Chiarello, the TWU chairman for signals, said workers would have had nothing to gain by claiming to inspect more signals than they actually had.
“If I did one signal or 100 signals, my pay is the same,” he said. “It’s not like a get a prize or a trip to Hawaii.”
Council member James Vacca, who heads the council’s transit committee and held hearings about the signal tests last year, blamed the transit agency for not catching the allegedly misconduct sooner.
“The MTA had indications that something was seriously wrong but chose to ignore the indications,” Vacca said Wednesday. “It defied imagination that this could have gone on for so long.”
He added that anyone who faked inspections “placed the lives of New Yorkers at risk."
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg dismissed the allegations made by the TWU and Vacca.
“The alleged misconduct, if true, is totally unacceptable and does not reflect the work of the vast majority of our MTA employees,” Lisberg said, adding that despite potentially forged tests, “the system is safe, and remains safe.”