MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny today released an investigative report finding at least 3 employees had used a storage room at Metro-North Railroad’s (MNR) Grand Central Terminal (GCT) as their own personal “man cave.” The Office of the MTA Inspector General (OIG) found the room, complete with a futon couch, a large flat-screen television with a streaming device, air conditioning, refrigerator, microwave, workout equipment, hide-a-way beds, and more.
“Many a New Yorker has fantasized about kicking back with a cold beer in a prime piece of Manhattan real estate – especially one this close to good transportation,” said MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny. “But few would have the chutzpah to commandeer a secret room beneath Grand Central Terminal & make it their very own man-cave, sustained with MTA resources, and maintained at our riders’ expense.”
The “man cave” was an interior room behind a locked door within a storage room containing what OIG investigators were told were “sensitive supplies” beneath Track 114 at GCT. Inside were customized wooden boxes that could be deployed to quickly disguise some of the room’s larger items, such as the futon and the flat screen TV. During the investigation, GCT management told the OIG that they did not even know the storage room existed, let alone that it contained an unauthorized break room. Consequently, GCT management was also unaware of which employees had keys to the storage room, or the “man cave” inside. The MNR Fire Brigadestated that the space – located in an unmapped room – presented significant health and safety risks including the inability for rescue personnel to quickly access the room.
Inside the unauthorized break room, OIG investigators found personal property and evidence that implicated 3 employees: a Wireman, a Carpenter Foreman, and an Electrical Foreman. The evidence included: a receipt with the Wireman’s name on it, and the streaming device connected to a hotspot associated with the Carpenter Foreman’s phone. In addition, 2 personal calendars and a pull-up bar featured a shipping sticker with the Electrical Foreman’s name. The streaming device was registered to him as well.
MNR has served 3 employees with disciplinary charges and they have been suspended without pay pending resolution of each of their disciplinary matters. Additionally, during the course of the investigation, a Supervisor lied to the OIG about an employee’s whereabouts. MNR is conducting an investigation to determine whether additional discipline is necessary.
OIG launched the investigation after learning of complaints about the room from anonymous tips to our complaint hotline. OIG investigators found that MNR Security failed to take any steps to investigate an initial complaint referred to it by the MNR President’s Office. OIG also found that MNR Security lacked a formal wayof tracking the investigation and disposition of the complaints it receives from the MNR President’s Office. In addition to the disciplinary recommendations, OIG also recommended that MNR develop a formal process for tracking these types of complaints. MNR has accepted all of the OIG’s recommendations and is currently conducting their own investigation on this matter.
This investigation and report were conducted by members of the OIG’s Investigation and Legal Units, including Senior Associate Counsel Maura Daly.
The OIG’s report, including pictures, findings, and recommendations, could be accessed here.
The MTA Inspector General encourages all members of the public to reach out with complaints, tips, or to report fraud via the Office’s confidential tip reporting portals: nline here, by phone at 1-800-MTA-IG4U (1-800-682-4448) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.