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Prosecutions for MTA OT fraud are a sign to watch out for next big scam

“Overtime king” Thomas Caputo and four other current and former MTA employees face up to 10 years in prison on charges of federal program fraud for collecting overtime pay when not actually on the job. It’s a small measure of justice in a huge scandal uncovered by The Post and the Empire Center for Public Policy.

It’s been over 18 months since the Empire Center flagged flagrant excessive OT at the Long Island Rail Road and other MTA branches, and The Post followed up with a series of investigative reports. That prompted the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office and the FBI to build legal cases against some of the most blatant cheats.

Caputo, for one, drew more than $344,000 in overtime pay in 2018 alone — for a total that topped all other MTA employees, including the chairman. Now the feds have proof that he was at a bowling alley while clocked in on at least two occasions.

Subway maintenance supervisor Michael Gundersen would have had to average 10 hours of overtime a day to reach his nearly 4,000 recorded extra hours in 2018, but was out of state for some of his “work” time — on a Virginia vacation, the feds say, and at an Atlantic City concert.

In April 2019, the Empire Center found that MTA overtime pay had jumped 16 percent in the past year. Because it waged long court battles to get individual pay and pension info for public employees, it also flagged Caputo and other “stars” — and The Post made sure officials couldn’t keep turning a blind eye.

Yet the OT scam is also a pension scam, since the extra pay also means higher retirement payouts. Indeed, Caputo retired after his “good fortune” was exposed and drew $144,000 in his first year. Now the MTA is moving to slash his pension and claw back the amount he unjustly collected.

Gov. Cuomo pretends the five accused are just “bad apples.” Ha! LIRR overtime soared after a previous pension scam was exposed — namely, that nearly all its retirees were somehow qualifying for lucrative disability pensions.

Now the MTA needs to be on the alert for the next scheme to pad pensions, because many LIRR workers, especially, plainly figure they’re entitled to cheat the taxpayers.

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