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Union official: Commuter rail management under investigation in time card cheating scandal

by: Elizabeth Hopkins, Erin Smith Updated:

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BOSTON - A union official says the MBTA’s commuter rail managers are under investigation in an ongoing time card cheating scandal that was first uncovered by FOX25 Investigates, -- a claim the company in charge of the rail line vigorously denies.

FOX25 first reported in September on commuter rail workers accused of cheating the time clocks – a scandal that resulted in the termination of nine workers.

Those fired workers are fighting their terminations, according to Andrew Mannion, president of IBEW Local 674 President, which represents Keolis electrical workers.

When asked how the workers are appealing their terminations, Mannion told FOX25 “I cannot comment because there is still an active investigation into management involvement in the same alleged incident.”

A spokeswoman for Keolis Commuter Services said there is no investigation. Spokeswoman Leslie Aun told FOX25 all investigations into the time card scandal have been completed and the responsible workers have been fired.

This comes the same day as Keolis, the MBTA’s largest private contractor, rolled out a new system upgrade designed to stop cheaters.

The biometric timekeepers allow employees to clock in and out with a thumbprint and a pin number, replacing the current badge system.

“The whole point is to eliminate unnecessary work and be more productive,” said Chief Mechanical Officer Ernest Piper.

Back in September, FOX25 uncovered commuter rail laborers and electricians working at the engineer terminal in Somerville accused of clocking in coworkers when they were at home or on time off.

Keolis said they have no idea how long the fraud had been going on or how much it cost taxpayers.

The issue came to light as the MBTA looks to outsource more transportation services to private contractors – a move some have opposed.

A Keolis spokeswoman said the entire timekeeping system upgrade cost $1,000.

Piper says the technology will help with accuracy and streamline managers’ work. He insists the upgrade has nothing to do with the scandal.

“No, this has been in the works since – at least since I've been here, and I've been at Keolis for a year,” Piper told FOX25.

“We have managers working 10 hours a week – that’s a whole day during the week – just adjusting payroll,” said Piper. “We make changes for positive reasons – not negative ones.”

The new system upgrade was unveiled Friday in a media event organized by the commuter rail’s politically connected PR firm – Keyer Public Strategies.

The founder of that company, Will Keyser, was a top advisor for Gov. Charlie Baker’s successful 2014 campaign.

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