When former New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte stepped down in June on the heels of several scandals, he left with a bank of unused vacation time worth $24,000.
On Tuesday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer tightened the city’s purse strings in regard to paying out Ponte’s 27 unused vacation days in anticipation of further investigation into his alleged improper use of city vehicles, The New York Times reported.
“While unused vacation days are typically paid out following separation of service from the city, we will wait for the outcome of any existing or future investigations,” Stringer’s communications director Devon Puglia said.
Ponte left the DOC in June after three years at its helm — and just weeks after the Department of Investigation released a report indicating that he had driven a city vehicle 18,500 miles last year to and from Maine, where he had, until this past March, owned a vacation home in Wiscasset.
The report also found inappropriate vehicle use by 20 other DOC staff, including newly appointed Commissioner Cynthia Brann, who were subjected to disciplinary measures that included mileage reimbursement and forfeiting days off.
Ponte, whose mileage was considered income, made a partial reimbursement payment, Natalie Grybauskas, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, told the Times.
Puglia said that “additional Conflicts of Interest Board or DOI inquiries into this situation” could occur “and those outcomes could ultimately result in fines against Mr. Ponte.”
A DOI report from April discovered that Ponte had been out of state for 90 days in 2016, 35 of which were workdays. During that time, 27 inmate slashings, three correction officer slashings and the death of an on-duty staffer occurred, the DOI said.