A former bus bigwig with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority stole more than $21,000-worth of hours he didn’t work by falsifying his timesheets, alleged a report by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Office of Inspector General released Thursday.
Former director of on-board technology for New York City Transit’s Bus Company Martin Olsen, a 19-year veteran of the MTA, allegedly filed fake attendance on 39 dates between January 2018 and February 2020, earning $21,336 he wasn’t entitled to, according to the OIG’s probe.
He also left work an hour early on four dates and arrived at noon on two other dates — three-and-a-half hours late — which was not noted on his timesheets.
The MTA’s internal watchdog found that Olsen’s supervisor — the chief officer of NYCT bus operations and technology systems, whom OIG kept anonymous in the report — signed off on the director’s timesheets without verifying his attendance and in bulk, rather than at the end of each payroll period.
At one point, he allegedly approved 49 weeks-worth of work for him in a single day. During that period alone, Olsen falsely claimed to have worked on 17 dates, according to the OIG.
The accused time thief worked mostly at MTA’s headquarters at 2 Broadway in Lower Manhattan and was responsible for bus technology such as digital info screens, a traffic signal priority project, and automatic passenger counting. He could not be reached for comment for this story.
When interviewed by OIG investigators, he blamed some of his late starts on delays in his commute on the Long Island Railroad and said that he worked through his lunch hours due to a “medical accommodation,” even though he didn’t get that signed off by HR.
He also did not use the agency’s biometric time clock to clock in and out of work.
OIG interviewed both people twice, starting with Olsen’s unnamed supervisor.
Olsen told OIG that the supervisor secretly let him know about it after the first interview, telling him “we never had this conversation,” according to the report.
In response to the investigation, MTA Bus Company suspended Olsen and deducted 309 hours from his vacation leave. The Office of Labor Relation sought to terminate him, and Olsen appealed his case, before filing for his retirement on June 10.
The MTA also suspended the superior for 30 days, and gave him a final warning that the same or similar conduct will result in his termination.
MTA spokesperson Meredith Daniels said in a statement that they are trying to get back the money Olsen was not entitled to:
“The MTA takes the theft of time very seriously and has taken the appropriate disciplinary actions for failure to follow established policy and procedures. In addition, the Authority is seeking to recoup any monies paid to which the employee was not entitled.”