NEW YORK — In December, an employee of the New York City Department of Education (DOE), Geoffrey Berger, was arrested as a result of an investigation of the New York City school bus industry by the FBI and U.S. Department of Labor.
According to information provided by a former DOE inspector, he and several fellow DOE employees agreed to obtain cash payments from bus companies in exchange for providing them with “extended runs,” which garner higher rates, and advance notice of and favorable treatment during DOE inspections. The scheme dated back to the 1980s, according to the former inspector.
Berger, a DOE borough supervisor, arranged school bus routes, which are contracted primarily to privately-owned bus companies. From about 2005 until about 2007, at least 10 different bus company owners who contracted with the DOE made cash payments to the former inspector amounting to over $100,000. Berger received illegal cash payments from at least four of these bus companies.
Berger, who was released on a $1 million bond, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of at least $250,000.