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A senior member of NYC Transit’s subway elevator and escalator repair team was fired after taking multiple weekday flights to a second home in Florida while he was on the clock, a report from the MTA’s Office of the Inspector General says.
“OIG found that on nine instances, usually Fridays, [the employee] did not work his entire scheduled shift, and instead flew to Florida,” investigators wrote.
The accused feckless flyer, who is not identified in the report, was employed as a general superintendent responsible for overseeing the maintenance and repair of all of the subway system’s elevators and escalators north of 14th Street in Manhattan as well as at some stations in the Bronx.
The Daily News identified him as Kenson Anthony Thomas, 45, by cross-referencing MTA employee payroll databases available to the public. A News source confirmed Thomas’ identity.
“Elevators and escalators are a critical component of our transportation system, especially for people with mobility challenges who depend on them,” MTA Inspector General Daniel Cort said in a statement. “Managers who oversee the maintenance of elevators and escalators perform a crucial role and cannot shirk their responsibilities.”
The investigation, which compared subpoenaed flight records with the no-show superintendent’s timecard entries, found that he flew from Newark to Orlando seven times in 2021, most while he was scheduled to work a 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift.
For three Fridays in a row in July 2021, the man claimed to be conducting “fieldwork” on his time card, while he was in fact airborne.
A month later, on Aug. 27, 2021, the employee made the same trip, again listed on his time card as fieldwork.
A week later, on Sept. 3, he apparently clocked into his Manhattan office at 6:31 a.m. — while managing to board a 9:31 flight out of Newark on the same morning.
A week later, again under the guise of fieldwork, airline records show him on a 6 a.m. flight south.
In October of that year, he swapped his schedule to work overnight — 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday into Friday. But he still skipped out early to catch a 6:10 a.m. flight out of Newark.
On April 29, 2022, he again claimed to be “in the field” when in fact he was boarding an early morning flight from LaGuardia.
The superintendent owns a home in Florida, which was listed with the MTA as his primary address, investigators wrote. But his antics were not limited to the Sunshine State.
On Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, flight records show him returning to Newark from Myrtle Beach, S.C., at 11:41 a.m., nearly six hours after his shift had been scheduled to start.
In all, the OIG estimated, the superintendent was paid roughly $2,990 for 49 hours he didn’t work.
In an in interview with the Daily News after initial publication, Thomas insisted that he never stole time from the MTA.
“I gave my health to [NYC] Transit — I would never steal time,” Thomas said.
He claimed to have always worked at least a 40-hour week, often putting in overtime.
The ex-superintendent said he had made an arrangement with his supervisors following his 2021 purchase of the Florida property that allowed him to work overnights on Thursday into Friday instead of his 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift.
But because of a technicality in the time card system, Thomas said, working overnight had to be entered as “field work.”
“Mr. Kenson always completed his required time and has never ‘stolen time’ from the Authority or intended to deceive or gain any unearned benefit,” Mykola Ishchuk, an attorney for Thomas, wrote in a May letter appealing his termination.
“On all the days he purportedly stole time, Mr. Kenson fulfilled his obligation to the Authority by working his regular shift on Thursday at 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mr. Kenson then went home, took a shower, ate, rested and returned to work three hours [later] starting another shift at 5 p.m., and [left] at 4:30 a.m.,” Ishchuk continued.
“[H]is direct supervisor knew his situation and did not have an issue with him coming in to work earlier to start his shift, he further instructed him to document his time as ‘Field Work,’” the lawyer added.
Thomas provided text messages to The News to support his position.
According to OIG records, Thomas appealed his termination, but a subsequent hearing upheld his firing.
Richard Davey, the head of NYC Transit — the MTA agency that operates the subways and employed the elevator superintendent — confirmed the superintendent’s firing.
“This theft of time undermined the public’s trust as well as the trust of NYC Transit, and is not representative of the thousands of hardworking transit workers who move New Yorkers every single day,” he said in a statement.
“For these reasons, this employee is no longer with the agency.”
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