State investigator criticizes former board

The former head of the New York Bridge Authority, which oversees five Hudson Valley bridges, left his job last year to run for office with a questionable payout of $92,000, according to a state inspector general report.

The investigator, Letizia Tagliafierro, released a report on Monday (Aug. 3) detailing a payout given to Joseph Ruggiero when he resigned as executive director in February 2019 to run as a Democrat for Dutchess County executive.

The Bridge Authority board was replaced last month under an agreement by state lawmakers with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Its bridges include Bear Mountain and Newburgh-Beacon.

The investigation was launched based on reporting by the Hudson Valley News, according to the inspector general. Although Ruggiero resigned, the board awarded him 90 days of severance pay, although it didn’t specify whether that meant 90 calendar days or 90 work days. Ruggierio chose the latter, according to the report. He also remained as an “executive assistant” for three weeks so he could reach his employment anniversary and claim more vacation pay, it said.

The inspector general recommended the new Bridge Authority board examine whether it could get some of the money back.

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