January 5, 2011 in Nation/World

Feds investigate NYC snow cleanup

Tom Hays Associated Press
 

NEW YORK – Federal prosecutors are looking into claims sanitation workers sabotaged the city’s snow cleanup after the post-Christmas blizzard, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn opened a preliminary inquiry after a Queens city councilman contacted it, the official said. A city watchdog agency also is investigating.

Councilman Dan Halloran has said sanitation workers told him their supervisors made it clear workers who slacked off during the cleanup after the Dec. 26 storm wouldn’t be punished.

The official said public integrity prosecutors are looking into whether workers padded overtime and violated fraud statutes. The official spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

The Department of Sanitation would not comment on an open investigation, spokesman Keith Mellis said.

It took several days to plow the city’s streets after the storm dumped 20 inches of snow.

There was some speculation that the sluggish response stemmed from a work slowdown aimed at protesting a scheduled Jan. 1 cost-cutting move to demote 100 supervisors overseeing the plowing effort.

Two sanitation union bosses have said the slowdown rumors are false and insulting.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty have said they were concerned but didn’t think there was any truth to the speculation.

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