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June 16, 2010

Employee disciplined for driving department vehicle “with a passenger, after hours and off-route"

Employee disciplined for driving department vehicle “with a passenger, after hours and off-route"
New York City Department of Environmental Protection v Johnson, OATH Index #1330/10

OATH Administrative Law Judge Kevin Casey found that a “311 complaint” telephoned by a citizen, Mike Cristino, corroborated by the Department’s chief inspector's investigation, was sufficiently reliable to prove that a Department water use inspector drove a department truck, with a passenger, after hours and off-route.

Mr. Cristino had telephoned 311* and reported that while crossing a street in Brooklyn after 5 p.m., he was almost hit by a truck driven by a DEP worker. The complainant provided the license plate number and noted that the passenger in the vehicle had “given him the finger.”

The license plate number provided by Mr. Cristino matched the one on the truck assigned to Nicholas Johnson, an Environmental Protection water use inspector.

The record indicated that Johnson’s route was in the Bronx, and his shift ended at 4:30 p.m.

The Department’s inspector testified Johnson had logged 56 miles that day although his route was 18 miles. Johnson attempted to explain the discrepancy by suggesting he drove extra miles to keep his truck cabin cool, to avoid extra idling and check fire hydrants or that he made an erroneous log entry.

ALJ Casey rejected Johnson’s explanations as unlikely and recommended be suspended without pay for 12 days.

* Individuals in New York City only need dial 311 - the 311 Citizens Service Center - for all non-emergency related Government services calls. For additional information about NYC's 311 service go to: http://www.nyc.com/government/311_citizens_service_center.76037/editorial_review.aspx

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://archive.citylaw.org/oath/10_Cases/10-1330.pdf

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