Four of the 13 current and former MTA staffers indicted Monday in connection with a 2014 cheating scandal the Metro-North Railroad hail from Connecticut, according to the Manhattan district attorney.
Anthony Carbone, of North Haven; Joseph Fowler, of West Haven; Sean Macauley, of Northford; and Coltyn Reindel, of North Haven, are among nine conductors and four engineers facing charges out of New York.
The workers have each been charged with impairing the integrity of a government licensing examination – a felony – for allegedly emailing photos of several different versions of Metro-North safety tests to other candidates, prosecutors said.
The candidates must pass the exams in order to become licensed locomotive engineers or train conductors with the railroad. The tests are designed to evaluate candidates’ knowledge of braking controls, emergency procedures, train traffic signals, speed limits and the physical characteristics of various Metro-North lines and stations, among other things.
Engineers are also required to pass several tests as part of a triennial re-certification process.
In one of the cheating instances, a suspect allegedly accessed the conductor exam and recorded a portion of it with his cellphone while an instructor was out of the room, then emailed the recorded test to several of his classmates, according to the indictment. In another case, an engineer candidate allegedly emailed photos of complete answer sheets to an engineer who had not yet completed the required three-year re-certification process tests, authorities said.
Ultimately, prosecutors say eight different tests administered at Grand Central Terminal were wrongfully obtained and distributed between November 2011 and May 2014. They have all since been replaced.
In a statement, the MTA said none of the 13 staffers charged Monday had been in passenger service since the agency was notified they would be arrested. No part of the alleged cheating hurt the safety of the railroad, the statement said.
"Safety is Metro-North Railroad’s highest priority, and the railroad is committed to rooting out any activities that fall short of the highest standards," the statement said.
The MTA said that when it first learned of the allegations a year ago, it brought in the MTA Police Department and the MTA Inspector General to investigate. While the agencies were probing the allegations, the MTA disbanded one class of conductor trainees and extended the training of other conductor and locomotive engineer trainees, the transit agency said. Metro-North also began overhauling its testing protocols.
"While these allegations are extremely disturbing, Metro-North is confident that the railroad is safe for its customers and employees, and that every engineer and conductor is competent and qualified to do their jobs," the statement from the MTA said.