The New York City subway system has continued to deteriorate, rankled by massive delays, misspent funds, and widespread claims of corruption. On Friday, the feds confirmed the corruption part by securing a 46 month sentence for a former employee who promised subway contractors future work in return for bribes.
Talib Lokhandwala, a former construction project administrator with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (the subway system’s operator), was sentenced to nearly four years in prison, after pleading last October to soliciting and receiving bribes from two contractors working on NYC transit projects.
Over a six year period, Lokhandwala received more than $150,000 in bribes from two contractors performing subway construction projects, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Lokhandwala concealed his receipt of the bribe payments by having the contractors issue checks to shell bank accounts he controlled,” the DOJ said. “In exchange for the bribes, Lokhandwala promised to steer future work to the contractors and to expedite bureaucratic paperwork for their benefit. Lokhandwala threatened to bar the contractors from future projects if they did not continue to pay him.”
This tracks with, uh... exactly what you’d expect to happen, based on what MTA employees have said. When The New York Times recently caught up with MTA board member Charles Moerdler to ask about the MTA’s sky-high costs for construction projects, he offered up this gem:
I don’t think it’s corrupt. But I think people like doing business with people they know, and so a few companies get all the work, and they can charge whatever they want.” Oh yeah. That’s definitely not corruption.
Following Lokhandwala’s settlement, Barry Kluger, the MTA inspector general, offered up some advice to those who work with the MTA: “I also want to remind those who do business with the MTA of their obligations, to both the MTA and the public, to report any solicitations or requested bribes.” Not a bad thought!
Beyond the prison sentence, Lokhandwala was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.