MAY 15, 2008
Four officials in one major city’s Department of Education have been federally indicted for soliciting bribes from bus companies that serve special education students.
The New York City Department of Education employees took cash payments—of up to tens of thousands of dollars a year—from companies in exchange for preferential treatment on inspections, the reduction of hefty fines for safety violations and for falsely classifying routes as extended which resulted in extra pay for the company.
In some cases the bus companies gave the public officials hefty sums simply to secure the future good will of the agency’s employees. Sometimes the bribes were based on the on the number of new routes the firm was granted by the district.
The indictment charges the officials with extortion, bribery and conspiracy. Three of the defendants (Neil Crimin, George Otriz and Ira Sokol) are Office of Public Transportation supervisors and one (Milton Smith) is a safety inspector. Each faces a maximum prison sentence of 55 years.
It was only four months ago that the president of the city’s main union for school bus drivers (Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union) pleaded guilty to federal extortion and bribery. Evidently this latest indictment resulted from that investigation.
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