Bus Dispatcher Accused Of Sick Time Fraud

The borough of Staten Island is back in the transit news limelight & once again it is not in a good way. 3 days ago, I wrote an entry on a report in the New York Daily News which said up to 21% of Staten Island bus drivers called in sick this past February before a major storm hits. Today’s report focuses on a MTA Bus dispatcher who is accused of calling in sick for 10 days straight while being in Florida. Pete Donohue (along with Lisa Lucas from Naples, Florida) has more:

A Staten Island bus dispatcher booked a flight to Florida – and then called in sick from the Sunshine State day after day, transit sources said.

Giovanni Bonanno, 62, quickly retired last month, sources said, after NYC Transit officials accused him of lying about his sick time – a practice transit officials say is widespread in some pockets of the workforce.

“This kind of blatant abuse of the system costs the MTA millions of dollars each year and … we will go to whatever lengths necessary to crack down on the minority of our employees who break the rules,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.

Sick time and leave abuse have been a particular problem on Staten Island, according to transit managers. Transit data reveal that a high percentage of bus division workers there claim to suffer from a chronic ailment, or have a seriously ill member of their immediate family who needs their care.

Over a 10-day stretch starting March 14, Bonanno repeatedly called his Yukon depot prior to his shift, sources said, telling a supervisor he was taking a Family and Medical Leave Act day. The MTA wouldn’t disclose Bonanno’s condition.

The agency investigation determined Bonanno booked a round-trip flight to Florida about a month before he started calling in sick.

Bonanno, who owns property in Florida, didn’t return telephone calls seeking comment. His wife, Marjorie, said her husband did nothing wrong.

Click here to read the complete report.

I think it is safe to say that Staten Island bus drivers are under a full force attack from the MTA & the court of public opinion. I still stand by my sentiment of feeling the attitude towards MTA employees living out of state is ridiculous.

As far as this case is concerned, I will hold off on passing final judgment until all the facts come out. I am curious as to what methods were used to find out he booked a vacation in advance. I wonder if an invasion of privacy came into play on that one. However I will end this by saying, if he really did fake sickness, he should be punished & have to payback any money he made on those days.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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