Adriana Natale, 53, a top supervisor in the bus division making $126,000 a year, was recently charged internally for repeatedly sneaking out of work early and lying about it on records, Transit officials said.
Investigators reviewed a year of time sheets and found Natale falsified hours at least five times, MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said.
Natale usually drove her Transit-issued car between her Queens Village office and her North Middletown, NJ, home 60 miles away. The car would have been clocked in by E-ZPass several times a day as it crossed city bridges and moved through New Jersey highway toll plazas.
MTA officials are now looking to shuttle Natale to the 126th Street Bus Depot in Manhattan as a bus dispatcher, where she would make about $50,000 less than her current salary, sources said.
Natale, on paid vacation, is appealing.
"Nothing is finalized until the appeal process has taken place," Parker said.
Questioned at her duplex on a quiet, tree-lined block, Natale said she no longer had her company car. She refused to comment further.
The Howard Beach native started as a bus driver at the Ulmer Park Bus Depot in Brooklyn. She quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a dispatcher and general superintendent at the 126th Street depot.
Natale was promoted in 2007 to assistant general manager for the road-control division. The job is one of the highest-ranking roles in the bus department, overseeing crucial functions like bus routes and diversions. She was Transit's second highest-paid bus superintendent in 2009.
Citing ongoing disciplinary hearings, Parker declined to comment on why the busted bus official was being demoted rather than fired.
"Theft of service is a serious offense that usually means termination," said one Transit official, shocked by the agency's apparent lenience.
If she remains on the job, the 22-year transit veteran will be able to retire and collect her pension in three years.