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Charles WatsonAug 25, 2017, 1:23 pmAug 25, 2017, 4:37 pm

NJ Transit heavily criticized by former official

Former Chief Compliance Officer Todd Baretta described the agency as 'a runaway train' at a hearing on Friday, and questioned its leadership

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Former New Jersey Transit Chief Compliance Officer Todd Baretta delivered withering testimony before the judiciary and oversight committees on Friday, detailing how the transit agency operates.

Baretta testified that during his four-month stint at the agency, before being terminated earlier this month, he notified top officials of inadequate stafing levels, failures to update decades-old policies, and shoddy inspection and testing practices. Baretta claimed that he had been instructed to never put anything in writing, out of fear of it being leaked to the public, and said that on several occasions he was told by top executive Steven Santoro to stand down on a number of issues.

"Executive Director Santoro is unqualified to lead the agency," Baretta said.

Civil rights attorney Nancy Erika Smith also testified at Friday's hearing, alleging that the agency is rife with sexist and racist behavior. Smith said that she represented a number of NJ Transit employees who had filed complaints with the agency's Office of Equal Opportunity, but nothing had been done about the issues, even after the agency was forced to pay out millions of taxpayer dollars in settlements.

NJ Transit Steven Santoro denied accusations of discrimination at the agency and claims that he was unfit to lead the agency. Santoro said that under his leadership, the agency has zero tolerance for discrimination and lawsuits concerning that issue are on the decline.

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