Audit Faults New York Motorcyle Safety Training Program

March 19, 2009

Auditors found that a New York group hired by the state to conduct motorcycle safety training spent $46,000 for a tricked-out pickup truck, paid for unexplained trips to Arizona and Santo Domingo, and had some instructors without driver’s licenses.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Tuesday that the Motorcycle Association of New York State, based in New York City, is losing the contract it first secured in 1998 in the administration of Gov. George Pataki. The audit includes accusations against some of its top officials. Findings are being sent to the state attorney general’s office for possible further action.

The state’s contract is worth about $6.4 million over five years. The spending by the association came during a period in which DiNapoli said the association failed to meet basic requirements of the contract including the establishment of enough training sites statewide.

The association’s contract expired in February.

The spending DiNapoli questioned included:

— A Ford Lariat pickup truck that was to be used for towing motorcycles. The truck had a upgrades including premium wheels, “jewel-effect headlamps” and lots of leather and chrome, but couldn’t tow motorcycles. The truck didn’t fit in the association’s $300-a-month parking garage so parking meters were used daily.

— A $13,000 motorcycle apparently used for one official to get to work.

— A Chrysler 300 sedan one official took to Arizona when he semiretired, at a cost of $36,221 in leases and insurance. The state Department of Motor Vehicles subsequently disallowed reimbursement for the car.

— $13,000 for six hotel rooms for a 13-night stay during the State Fair near Syracuse, without a record of who accompanied association officials or the purpose of the trip.

— $1,800 to maintain a trailer in Arizona with no record of its purpose or for who used it.

— Thousands of dollars in air fare for association officials and their relatives, some of which was eventually reimbursed to the association.

— 37 motorcycles worth $47,515 that were missing, although 24 were eventually located and the others may have been dismantled for parts, according to the DMV’s response.

Some of the spending has since been reimbursed, according to the audit.

Other violations of provisions of the contracted were found in a spot check of 50 of 82 instructors: 26 had no high school or equivalency diploma, four didn’t have current and valid motorcycle licenses, and two didn’t meet the minimum of teaching two beginning rider courses a year.

The contract provided thousands of motorcyclists with training to get licenses and to eliminate “points” for violations on their licenses.

The DMV agreed with many of the findings and is rebidding the contract.

Officials for the association couldn’t immediately be reached at phone numbers in New York and in Arizona.

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