LIRR workers plead not guilty to overtime fraud

Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News
·1 min read

They’ve been working on the rail road — or have they?

Five current and former Long Island Rail Road employees pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges of claiming more than $1 million of overtime on taxpayers’ dime that they didn’t actually work.

The five high- ranking workers — Frank Pizzonia, Thomas Caputo, Joseph Ruzzo, John Nugent and Joseph Balestra — allegedly plotted to cover each others’ backs, explaining their fellow fraudsters’ absence should anyone ask questions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Montelioni said evidence in the case largely consisted of LIRR time card records documenting hours worked, along with cell site information showing the location of the accused overtime cheats’ cell phones.

Caputo, Ruzzo, Nugent and Balestra were arrested in December, along with NYC Transit worker Michael Gunderson, who was also charged with overtime fraud but was not included in Thursday’s conspiracy charges.

Last week, a fifth LIRR worker was added to the case, Frank Pizzonia, whose father was a Gambino hit man. In one egregious example, prosecutors say Caputo claimed he was working on Manhattan’s west side when in reality he was participating in bowling league games on Long Island.

The busts — aided by investigators for the MTA’s Inspector General — highlighted out-of-control expenses at the agency reeling from historic budget shortfalls due to the coronavirus expenses.