So let me get this straight. We see no criminal charges against the banking masterminds who crashed the economy, or the mortgage company crooks who are still stealing people’s houses with impunity, but this is at the top of the priority list?
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that disgruntled sanitation workers sabotaged the cleanup after the blizzard last week that left some neighborhoods snowbound for days, people who have been briefed on the inquiry said Tuesday.
The investigation is focusing on whether there was a work slowdown and, if so, whether it was an effort to pad overtime. If the actions took place, two of those people said, they could constitute wire fraud or wire fraud conspiracy, both federal crimes. Both people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.
The inquiry, which began last week, is being conducted by the Public Integrity Section in the office of United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, which will work with the city’s Department of Investigation, one of the people said. The city investigators also began looking into possible efforts to sabotage the cleanup last week.
“We’re taking a look at this,” one of the people said, adding that the inquiry was in its earliest stages. It was reported Monday night by WCBS-TV News.
City officials have said that the cleanup’s primary obstacle was the large number of vehicles stuck in the middle of streets, which left many impassable to snow plows.
Critics have said that the Bloomberg administration’s choice not to declare a snow emergency or to ask sooner for private-sector help, as well as the city transit agency’s delay in invoking a full-scale emergency plan, meant that thousands of cars, trucks and buses remained mired in snow-clogged streets.
Evidence to support rumors that some sanitation workers intentionally slowed their efforts has been scant. The leaders of the two unions that represent sanitation workers and supervisors have denied that a slowdown occurred, as have Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Sanitation Department’s commissioner, John J. Doherty. All would have a vested interest in deflecting blame for the problems.
City Councilman Daniel J. Halloran, a Republican of Queens, was quoted in The New York Post on Thursday saying that supervisors, bitter over recent demotions and staff reductions, told their workers to “not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner.”
In a telephone interview that day, Mr. Halloran said three sanitation workers, including one whom he had long known and who had worked on his election campaign, told him that the message from their supervisors was not quite so explicit. They were told they would not be closely monitored and should not overwork themselves, he said, adding that the message was subtle to avoid a violation of the state’s Taylor Law, which bars public-sector unions from going on strike.