He thought he was on E-Z street.
An MTA Bridges and Tunnels employee was busted using his work E-ZPass at least 130 times — while doing a side gig as an Uber driver, the agency’s watchdog announced Wednesday.
Operations maintainer Yaron Orenstein was granted an E-ZPass for work business only, but since 2015 had been using it on B&T crossings while ferrying passengers for Uber in his off-time — then pocketing customer payments for toll fares even though the agency was footing the bill, the MTA Inspector General’s office said in its report.
Orenstein’s illicit pass use cost the MTA at least $750 at the E-ZPass rate — or as much as $1,078 at the cash rate, according to the agency.
When confronted, Orenstein — who earned $102,909 working for the MTA in 2018, according to SeeThroughNY — claimed he’d never been “officially” made aware that he couldn’t use the work tag for his side hustle, but admitted he may have “failed to switch between [his] employee tag [orange] and [his] personal tag [ivory] while performing trips,” the report says.
The IG noted that Orenstein did switch to his personal E-ZPass while using Port Authority crossings — a change he “oddly asserted” was “easier to remember because [his] non-revenue account was not allowed to be overdrawn.”
“Abuse of MTA resources and property is never acceptable, and the MTA Inspector General’s Office will continue to investigate such allegations of wrongdoing to send a clear message that there are no circumstances when this type of misconduct will be tolerated,” MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny said in a statement.
The inspector general’s office recommended the MTA punish Orenstein “up to and including termination,” yank his E-ZPass and recover the money it lost from his Uber trips.
The employee resigned and agreed to pay up, the inspector general’s office said.
Orenstein started working for Bridges and Tunnels back in April 2005 and was assigned to facilities in the Rockaways.