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Sanitation Worker Forced to Retire After Taking $20 Tip from Homeowner

By Katie Honan | February 4, 2014 9:37am
 Lenworth Dixon had been with the Department of Sanitation since 1988 and took the $20 tip last September, according to the city.
Lenworth Dixon had been with the Department of Sanitation since 1988 and took the $20 tip last September, according to the city.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

EAST ELMHURST — He traded trash for cash.

A veteran sanitation worker was forced to retire and shell out a hefty fine after accepting a $20 tip from a homeowner in East Elmhurst last year, investigators said.

Lenworth Dixon, a nearly 26-year veteran of the Department of Sanitation, was offered the money when he picked up furniture, a large amount of wood and other bulk refuse from a home on Butler Street, near 29th Avenue, on Sept. 26, 2013, according to a ruling from the city's Conflicts of Interest Board released Monday.

The board, which investigated the case, said Dixon violated a portion of the City Charter that prohibits civil service employees from taking a tip from someone "whose interest may be affected" by his actions.

He also violated a rule that bans a city employee from taking money from anyone other than the city for performing an official duty.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Sanitation said the agency's investigative unit responded to an anonymous tip and pointed out that the rules were clear.

"Employees of the Department of Sanitation are prohibited from soliciting, receiving, or accepting any gratuities," says the department's general order on gratuities.  "It does not matter whether the gratuity consists of the payment of money or a gift, or whether it is given for the performance of an act – refuse and recycling collection services – or not.

"It does not matter what the season is, the intent of the giver or the recipient, or the spirit in which it is offered or accepted."

Dixon agreed to retire from the Sanitation Department on Jan. 16 and pay a $1,500 fine to the board.

The board said the punishment was a reminder to employees that the city's "conflicts of interest law prohibits their accepting compensation in any amount from any source other than the city for performing their city jobs."

Last June, two DSNY employees with more than 20 years on the job were fined and retired after splitting a $10 tip they received from a homeowner in Corona in 2011, the city said.

Dixon, his lawyer, and the union could not immediately be reached for comment.