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Feds Probe NYC Blizzard Cleanup

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Federal prosecutors are probing whether any sanitation workers committed a conspiracy to commit fraud by purposefully delaying road clearing and snow cleanup following the recent blizzard in New York City, ABC News has learned.

Local prosecutors in the city boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn are also looking into the alleged work slowdown to determine if any lives were lost or anyone was injured, as well as to determine whether state labor laws may have been violated.

A broader probe is underway in Queens, where City Councilman Dan Halloran has repeatedly claimed that sanitation workers, embarrassed by the alleged work stoppage, have come forward to provide information.

"Council member Halloran is pleased that law enforcement is taking this matter as seriously as he is and as all New Yorkers are," Steven Stites, a spokesman for Halloran, told ABC News.

In Queens, officials said, the D.A.'s office is conducting a preliminary probe to see if there is any evidence of criminality, including overtime slips that were improperly filled and documents that falsely stated roads had been cleaned.

"This office is reviewing information provided to it by City Councilman Dan Halloran, among others, with respect to last week's snowstorm and the City's response thereto," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. "At this point, however, we have not reached any conclusions as to whether a formal investigation is warranted."

The city council plans to conduct its own hearing into the city's response to the blizzard on Jan. 10.

New York's Channel 2 News broke the story on the federal probe Monday night.

While federal officials would neither confirm nor deny whether a probe was underway, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office also acknowledged that it was conducting a very narrow probe into a video that allegedly shows workers goofing off for hours.

The video, posted on YouTube, purports to show three sanitation workers spending 11 hours in a donut shop. In another video obtained by ABC News, a sanitation worker is seen sitting idly in a parked snow plow.

Sources in NYC government told ABC News they are angry at the possible role of workers in contributing to the weak response to the blizzard, but were also quick to acknowledge their own poor decisions played a major role in the underwhelming response to the blizzard.

"New York's strongest, the men and women of the Sanitation Department, do an amazing job day in and day out and we are grateful for their service. That said, by all accounts, the collective storm response was not anywhere near up to the standards New Yorkers are accustomed to," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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