NEW YORK (PIX11) — An MTA supervisor was fired after he was caught taking multiple flights to Florida while he was on the clock, according to a report by the MTA’s Office of Inspector General.
The general superintendent, who oversaw elevator inspections and maintenance from 14th Street in Manhattan to the Bronx, took several weekday flights from New York City to his second home in Florida while he claimed to be doing fieldwork, officials said.
“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 G. Cort said in a statement. “Managers who oversee the maintenance of elevators and escalators perform a crucial role and cannot shirk their responsibilities.”
The employee, Kenson Thomas, was caught when the watchdog agency compared his travel and shift records from January 2021 to June 2022, the report said. Investigators found nine instances when Thomas could not have worked his entire shift based on those records, according to the agency.
The report found that Thomas was paid nearly $3,000 for 49 hours he claimed to have worked. During the probe, Thomas admitted that he would leave work early to catch his flights, according to investigators.
Officials said Thomas was fired after he appealed the disciplinary process.
“This individual has now been held accountable for his failure to perform his duties and for his dishonesty,” Cort said.
However, Thomas pushed back against the agency’s narrative and defended himself in an interview with PIX11 News after his firing.
“This was approved by my managers. If it was illegal, then they should not have approved it,” Thomas said on Monday.
The inspector general zeroed in on Thomas’ preferred practice of working an extra-long day on Thursdays through an overnight shift into Friday so that he could finish up and fly home early Friday morning, instead of working his normal day shift.
Thomas acknowledged to PIX11 News that he would often fail to clock out, which gave the system the impression he was still working, and criticized his supervisor who was also interviewed by investigators.
“He stated that he did not know that I was flying to Florida every weekend, which is a lie,” said Thomas.
Thomas sent PIX11 News a letter from his attorney, with corresponding text messages that he said backed up his claims he did nothing wrong.
The letter read in part: “While Mr. Kenson acknowledges that he disregarded the rule that requires him to have at least 8 hours between shifts, he did not steal time, nor maliciously deceive the Authority to steal an unearned monetary benefit. Terminating his employment after over a decade of dedicated service for starting his shift earlier is unreasonable and egregious.”
Mira Wassef is a digital reporter who has covered news and sports in the New York City area for more than a decade. She joined PIX11 News in 2022. See more of her work here.