The first transit employee to be prosecuted in the signal inspection scandal declared he would clear his name Thursday after pleading not guilty to public records tampering and other charges.
“We’re going to beat this thing,” signal maintainer Ilya Klyauzov said outside Manhattan Supreme Court, according to the Daily News.
The 57-year-old supervisor is accused of falsely reporting on Dec. 10 and Jan. 5 that his maintenance team inspected 15 devices on the No. 7 line.
Investigators in January also found in his locker copies of signal equipment bar codes, which can be used to fabricate field inspections, according to the Manhattan DA’s Office.
“The defendant falsified the MTA’s records in an attempt to save himself from necessary work,” DA Cyrus Vance said in a statement. “Crimes like these can lead to delays in service, or far worse.”
If convicted, Klyauzov faces 1 to 7 years in prison.
Tony Utano, a transit union official, called it “outrageous that the workers are being scapegoated.”
“NYCT Pres. Tom Prendergast testified before the City Council that ‘upper management’ was responsible for the issues in the signal department,” he said in an email, adding that the union may demand an “overhaul of work procedures.”
Officials continue to investigate others involved in faking records, MTA Inspector Barry Kluger said, adding that it “is of the utmost priority.”
Lying about signal reviews has run rampant in the agency for a decade, with as many as 90 percent of workers involved faking reports, transit officials have said.
The MTA reiterated in a statement the signal system is safe and that it is working “to eliminate this past culture” from signals.