NYCHA fires 18 workers in overtime pay probe

Those so far demoted, fired from agency earned $1.4M last year

Gregory Russ, chair and chief executive officer of the New York City Housing Authority ( NYCHA, iStock)
Gregory Russ, chair and chief executive officer of the New York City Housing Authority ( NYCHA, iStock)

NYCHA has fired a slew of employees the agency says it identified in an investigation over false claims of overtime work that earned the penalized workers more than $1 million.

Seventy-eight people are under investigation by the agency in regard to false overtime claims, including 66 employees, most of whom are plumbers, and 12 supervisors, The City reported. As of Tuesday, 18 of those employees have been fired, while another four have been demoted.

NYCHA officials said those who have been terminated or demoted collected more than $1.4 million in overtime combined last year. Three of those earned more than $100,000 each in overtime.

The City reported 44 remain as part of the probe, which the agency declined to confirm includes supervisors.

None of the people being investigated are facing criminal charges at this time, but city housing officials said they would “take appropriate action — both legal and criminal — against any employee who abuses overtime or commits any other type of overtime malfeasance.”

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An NYCHA agreement with HUD signed in 2019 resulted in the appointment of a federal monitor and the addition of three internal units aimed at boosting conditions for tenants. One of those units led the inquiry into the overtime complaints.

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The investigation found the identified employees weren’t utilized enough during regular work hours, yet still claimed overtime.

“This investigation shows the progress NYCHA is making toward transparency and compliance,” NYCHA chair Greg Russ said. “This is proof positive that the 2019 HUD agreement is working, and we have the departments in place to ensure best practices at the Authority.”

NYCHA has a history of complaints in regards to its overtime policy. The City reported in 2019 plumber Vincenzo Giurbino in 2018 made more than $300,000 in salary and overtime, a higher payday than those of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Giurbino appeared to put in an average workday of 16 hours, divided between 1,449 hours of regular time and 1,825 hours of overtime, according to The City. It’s not clear if Giurbino is under investigation, as identities were not disclosed.

The outlet reported in November NYCHA’s general manager Vito Mustaciuolo was the city’s top earner in the last fiscal year, making more than $515,000 in salary and unused vacation time. He recently stepped down from his position.

[The City] — Holden Walter-Warner