Fined for Ethics Breach, Jails Commissioner Broke Rules Again

Fined for Ethics Breach, Jails Commissioner Broke Rules Again

The Conflicts of Interest Board on Tuesday released dispositions on improper vehicle use by Ms. Brann and eight other correction officials.

The board has yet to make public any resolution regarding Ms. Brann’s predecessor, Joseph Ponte, whom the Department of Investigations found to have improperly used a city car to travel back and forth multiple times to Maine, where he was from. Mr. Ponte resigned following the revelations of vehicle misuse and other problems at his department.

As part of that investigation, which was made public in April, it was determined that 20 other correction department officials, including Ms. Brann, who was the acting first deputy commissioner at the time, had also used their vehicles improperly.

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The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board held off on issuing its disposition on Joseph Ponte, the former correction commissioner, who retired after it was disclosed that he improperly used a department car. Credit Dave Sanders for The New York Times

A spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio, Natalie Grybauskas, said in an email on Tuesday that the mayor remained confident in Ms. Brann.

In the signed disposition, Ms. Brann admitted to taking 14 personal trips in 2016 in a department car, which was supposed to be used only while performing official duties or commuting between home and work. She said that she was unaware of the restriction.

As part of the disciplinary action, the correction department required Ms. Brann to reimburse the agency $493 for the mileage on the vehicle, and to forfeit eight days of personal leave, worth $5,824.

Subsequently, the Conflicts of Interest Board determined that Ms. Brann should be fined $6,000. The board required that the fine be paid by cashier’s check, bank check or certified check. Ms. Brann said in the disposition that she complained to a subordinate that it would be difficult for her to get a bank check because her bank was outside New York. Like Mr. Ponte, Ms. Brann comes from Maine.

She said that she then arranged to give the subordinate a personal check in the amount of the fine and, in exchange, he would go to his bank to get a cashier’s check payable to the board, which he did on Oct. 3. That same day, Mr. de Blasio announced that, after a national search, he had decided to give the commissioner job to Ms. Brann.

Peter Thorne, a correction spokesman, said that Ms. Brann completed an online ethics tutorial in the fall, before she was appointed commissioner — which was before she broke the rules again.

Ms. Brann said in the disposition that she was unaware that it was against ethics rules for her to have a subordinate do her a personal favor.

In an emailed statement, the Department of Investigation commissioner, Mark G. Peters, said that he was pleased that the conflicts board “took this matter seriously and levied these fines.” Asked about the correction department’s handling of the case, Mr. Peters refused to comment.

In at least two recent cases, another city agency, the Department of Environmental Protection, meted out much harsher justice, insisting that employees resign over improper vehicle use. Last year, Joseph Romano Jr. was forced to resign after using a city vehicle during about 50 trips to restaurants, shops and the doctor. This year, Dudley Pierre, an engineer at the Department of Environmental Protection, admitted using a city vehicle for personal purposes 21 times, ending when he got into a collision. He agreed to resign in October.

The same month, Ms. Brann was promoted to commissioner.

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