A married couple of Long Island Rail Road conductors cut shifts and covered for each other by punching time cards for their spouse who didn’t show up to work last fall, according to a newly-released report from the Office of the MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny.
The husband-and-wife cheats stole more than $3,400 in pay for which they didn’t actually work in October 2020, according to the April report, which did not disclose their identities.
The OIG found that the couple, both of whom are 27-year veterans of the LIRR and worked at the Speonk Yard in Suffolk County, clocked in for each other on six days between September–November when only one of them was actually working on the commuter trains.
On two days in October, OIG surveilled them at the train yard and their home about half an hour away.
On Oct. 20, they observed the wife leave their house without her husband, but later both were clocked in for work, even though only the woman was actually on the train, according to attendance records and security videos.
The reverse happened the following day when the only husband was spotted going to work but both were punched in for work.
According to LIRR policy, if a conductor calls in sick with less than three hours notice, they don’t get paid sick time and such last-minute absences are punished by the agency with a warning letter for the first offense, and further infractions within that calendar year can lead to “trial charges,” according to the report.
In interviews with the OIG, the wife admitted that she punched in for her spouse and that they had an arrangement where one of them would stay home to care for a family member with a medical condition.
The husband, however, denied to the inspector that he and his wife were trying to scam the agency, claiming “anyone could have his code and punch him in.”
In response, MTA gave both conductors a 30-day suspension, with a 25% pay cut for the first 15 days. They only get the second half of the suspension if they commit a similar offense within a year. The pay cut amounts to about $1,637 total.
They will also have to repay for time not worked and they can’t bid, choose, or accept work assignments other than those they are given for one year, according to the report.
A spokeswoman for OIG declined to identify the two conductors.
MTA spokeswoman Kayla Shults released the following statement:
“We take abuse of time and pay violations very seriously and cooperated with the Inspector General’s investigation while taking immediate disciplinary action as soon as we became aware of this unacceptable misconduct.”