The United States government filed a lawsuit against New York City Wednesday, claiming that the city submitted false claims to FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and received millions of dollars in illegitimate funds as a result. The lawsuit alleges that in the days after Sandy, the city’s Department of Transportation began surveying its fleet to address the damage from the hurricane—but that no one in day-to-day fleet services was informed that the information would later be submitted to FEMA. Therefore, workers documented the total amount of damage to NYC vehicles—not the total amount of damage that occurred as a result of the hurricane. As a result, the damage assessment included vehicles that had been non-operational—or even “marked for salvage”—before Sandy struck.
The Department of Transportation then allegedly sent the same list in a document called a PW—which totaled more than $12 million in damages—to FEMA for reimbursement, falsely certifying the legitimacy of the document. “As a result [of] NYCDOT’s false certifications, FEMA paid NYCDOT millions of dollars to replace vehicles that were ineligible for indemnification because they were not damaged by Sandy,” the lawsuit claims. “FEMA would not have agreed to pay NYCDOT any of these funds had it known that the certifications were false and that many of the vehicles listed in the PW were ineligible for indemnification.”