He was caught dead handed.

A top MTA cop was busted using his cruiser to get to funeral homes where he had unsanctioned side gigs as a pallbearer — and blowing off his real job for hours at a time, the agency revealed Wednesday.

And when then-MTA Police Department Assistant Chief Thomas Odessa was caught, he called in sick and then retired — with his pension intact.

MTA’s Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny released the report along with the results of a slew of other investigations of agency workers, promising a new era of transparency.

“I have directed my office to make available where appropriate the full investigative reports and audits . . . to ensure full transparency and accountability regarding the inspector general’s efforts to root out waste, fraud and abuse,” said Pokorny, who started the job last month.

“Moving forward, this will be the standard practice of our office to ensure New Yorkers know how their tax and fare dollars are being spent by the MTA, every penny of which should go toward building a safe, clean, reliable and affordable public-transit system.”

The agency’s Police Department first asked the inspector general to probe Odessa in late 2017 after he repeatedly failed to show up for appointments to have a GPS tracking device installed on his work vehicle, according to the report.

The cop — who earned $240,926 that year, according to the Empire Center — was then busted using his cruiser to make 14 visits in eight weeks to funeral homes on Staten Island, where investigators suspected he was moonlighting.

The Cherubini-McInerney Funeral Home in Elm Park, where Odessa went eight times, told The Post on Wednesday he had worked there as a pallbearer and livery driver for two decades on an as-needed basis.

MTA workers can take side gigs, but they need approval — and can’t use their work cars.

Odessa was also caught using the car for other personal business in his down time — including a jaunt to a New Jersey liquor store, the report says.

Meanwhile, the investigators tracked his car for 29 workdays — finding he showed up late on 24 of them, often by more than an hour, and was frequently still at home when his shift was supposed to have begun.

He also left work well before the end of his shift on several occasions — including one day when he departed at 11:47 a.m. despite a 3 p.m. knock-off time.

Sometimes, he also took unusual routes through Brooklyn to his home on Staten Island “in what appeared to be an effort . . . to make it appear as if he had worked at least closer to his full tour,” the report says — noting that the car’s E-ZPass would record trips across the Verrazzano Bridge.

When the IG’s office asked to interview Odessa, the MTA Police Department said he was sick and unavailable.

The IG then recommended he lose the vehicle and be hit with punishment “up to and including termination.”

But Odessa instead retired and forfeited $130,000 owed to him from a prior arbitration agreement, sources said — but he kept his pension.

“Given provisions enshrined in state law, the state Constitution, and collective-bargaining agreements, it is extraordinarily difficult to remove someone’s pension,” MTA spokesperson Maxwell Young said.

Odessa’s case was just one of a number of “troubling instances of waste, fraud and abuse” revealed in the reports, according to Pokorny’s office.

As The Post revealed Tuesday, the office also caught a highly-paid Long Island Rail Road foreman hanging out at home while on the clock.

Raymond Murphy, who raked in more than $280,000 in pay last year — more than half from overtime — was caught at or near his home on 10 occasions across three months in 2018.

He, too, was allowed to retire with his full pension.

The IG also caught a subway motorman claiming to have been working when he was actually seen elsewhere, and a Metro-North vehicle operator spotted napping for up to seven hours on the side of the road during shifts.

Odessa could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

© 2019 New York Post


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