Islip officials used a hidden GPS device to catch Long Island MacArthur Airport's operations manager using his Islip Town vehicle for personal use, and found him ducked down in the backseat of his car, idling in a hotel parking lot on his day off, town sources said.
Islip sources said the town concealed a second global-positioning system device on the underside of Emery Dicey's town car after Dicey bragged that he could circumvent the town's vehicle monitoring system. He told airport employees that he could beat the system by removing the GPS device from his car and leaving it at home in his garage, town sources said.
On Jan. 6, while Dicey was off duty, a town official monitoring the devices saw that while the original GPS device showed the car at Dicey's home, the hidden one showed the car traveling from his home to the airport and then to a nearby hotel, according to sources familiar with the town's investigation.
An Islip employee was dispatched to track down the car, and saw it idling -- seemingly empty -- for about 15 or 20 minutes in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Long Island-Islip Airport, the sources said.
Then Dicey appeared, climbing from the backseat to the front seat, the sources said. He drove away, and the town employee did not see whether anyone else was in the car, the sources said. The town investigator followed Dicey back to the airport, but lost him.
Dicey could not be reached Thursday.
Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan confirmed that the town is investigating an incident involving Dicey's town car.
"We believe he was operating it," Nolan said. "Obviously, we're going to make sure we have all the facts, but our initial information is extremely disturbing. This is a serious matter and will be dealt with in a serious manner."
The town won't take any disciplinary action until the investigation is complete, he said.
Nolan last summer launched a system to monitor how employees were using their town vehicles -- where they drove, how fast and in what direction. His goal was to curb personal use of town cars.
The system so far has uncovered infractions such as a snow plow operator idling for hours in his truck during a snowstorm and a highway department employee driving around all day without stopping to work, Nolan said. Both of those employees were disciplined.
As for the Dicey incident, Nolan said: "Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this was going to occur, but clearly the GPS technology is at the root of this being discovered."
He said, "This matter coming to light hopefully will discourage the displacement of our GPS devices from Town of Islip vehicles."
Dicey has worked for the town for more than 30 years, Nolan said.