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MTA inspector general's report: LIRR foreman cheated on OT hours

The MTA inspector general's office looked into high-overtime

The MTA inspector general's office looked into high-overtime earners including those working at the LIRR. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A now-retired Long Island Rail Road foreman who earned $280,950 in 2018 cheated on some of his pay by claiming he was working when he was at or near his East Northport home, according to an inspector general report released Wednesday.

Raymond Murphy, 65, while an employee with the LIRR’s Buildings and Bridges department, was spotted at or near his house during hours when he said he was at work on 10 separate dates by investigators, who surreptitiously monitored his movements between March 30 and June 14, 2018, as part of an investigation into time and attendance abuse, according to the annual report by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Office of the Inspector General.

“We found that Murphy abused time and submitted false time records,” then-MTA Inspector General Barry Kluger said in an Aug. 8 letter to LIRR president Phillip Eng. “We recommend that LIRR impose discipline on Murphy, up to and including termination.”

The report did not say anything about criminal charges.

Murphy, who started working for the LIRR as a mechanic in March 1996, resigned last fall, said Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the nation’s largest commuter rail.

A man who answered the phone listed under Murphy’s name hung up Wednesday after he learned that a reporter was on the line.

Murphy was one of the MTA’s top earners in 2017, pulling in $407,087 that year, with $295,490 of that income in overtime, according to a state database.

Investigators from the inspector general’s office began looking into Murphy based on its analysis of high overtime earners. They reviewed Murphy’s payroll, time and attendance records and conducted 12 surveillances of him during work hours.

On one occasion, on April 18, 2018, Murphy said he worked in Stewart Manor from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., then headed to the West Side Yard in Manhattan and worked overtime from 4 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next day, April 19, according to the inspector general’s office. On April 19, Murphy also claimed to have worked from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. in Stewart Manor.

However, investigators saw Murphy pulling into his driveway at 2:38 p.m. on April 18, remaining inside his home until 4 p.m., when the surveillance was terminated, according to the inspector general’s office.

At another time, on May 17, 2018, Murphy said he worked from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Bethpage, then went to work a second shift at the West Side Yard in Manhattan from 3:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next day, May 18.

But investigators saw Murphy’s personal car parked in the driveway of his East Northport home at 1:30 a.m. on May 18, 4 1/2 hours before his overtime shift ended, according to the inspector general’s office. Investigators saw Murphy driving away from the house at 7:10 a.m.

When investigators confronted Murphy on June 29, 2018, he initially told them union rules allowed him to leave work early once he completed his tasks, and he was entitled to get paid for the time it took him to get to and from work when the job is not at his regularly assigned location.

“After further questioning, Murphy admitted that he is required to remain at his work site until the end of his shift,” the inspector general said in the Aug. 8 letter. “He also admitted, contrary to his earlier claim, that there is no set two-hour travel time allotted for him to travel to and from the West Side Yard.”

The LIRR wants to recoup money it paid Murphy for the time he did not work, Donovan said. Although Donovan would not say  what amount the LIRR intends to ask Murphy to reimburse the agency, a source with knowledge of the investigation said it’s about $10,000.

“After this case was referred to the IG, and the IG conclusively investigated it, the LIRR accepted the IG’s recommendations and changed key procedures to ensure these situations wouldn’t be repeated, and initiated disciplinary proceedings against the employee,” MTA spokesman Maxwell Young said in a statement.

But Murphy resigned before the LIRR could impose disciplinary action against him.

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