An MTA supervisor who bragged to his co-workers about eluding bridge and tunnel tolls with an obscured license plate was demoted and required to pay restitution after an investigation by the authority’s inspector general found he owed over $100,000 in tolls, penalties and fines.
The bus supervisor — identified by sources as Aditya “Buddy” Samaroo, 44 — affixed a “cloudy, semi-clear plastic cover” onto his rear plate while forging a front plate entirely, IG Carolyn Pokorny said Monday. As a result, toll cameras failed to capture his plate number on 11 separate occasions during the course of the IG’s seven-month probe.
“MTA management is supposed to model ethical behavior, not violate it,” Pokorny said in a statement. “That a supervisor would unscrupulously steal toll dollars from New Yorkers – and have the nerve to brag about it on the job – is a slap in the face to the rest of the dedicated, hardworking MTA employees who keep New York moving.”
In addition to corroborating allegations of illegal toll evasion, IG investigators found Samaroo owed $9,256 in tolls and $92,000 in fees dating back to 2011, including $30,000 owed to the MTA itself.
Investigators found Samaroo managed to avoid having his license suspended by trading his plates in to the DMV “since the unpaid tolls and fees remain with the surrendered plates and not the registered vehicle or owner,” the IG’s report released Monday said.
Samaroo initially lied to investigators and claimed both that he was unaware of his open toll balances and that he’d lost his front plate in a car crash. The probe disproved both claims.
As of March 4, 2021, Samaroo still owed $8,600 in tolls and $99,800 in fees, the report said. He was suspended without pay in response to the IG probe, and ultimately demoted from assistant general superintendent to his previous title of superintendent.
Samaroo’s suspension cost him approximately $32,592 in wages. He also negotiated to pay $10,373.50 of the amount he owed to the MTA.
Investigators referred the remainder of his open balances to the New York Thruway Authority and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The fifth-year MTA employee, who earned $135,382 in 2020, did not return multiple requests for comment.
“This reprehensible conduct is an alleged violation of public trust that has no place at the MTA,” MTA spokesman Michael Cortez said in a statement. “Our Bridge and Tunnel officers regularly stop vehicles with fake and obscured license plates, regardless of who is perpetrating the theft of public funds. The employee was immediately suspended, and after an arbitration hearing was demoted and required to make restitution.”