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New York - Two Brooklyn Census Managers Fired Over Faked Surveys

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New York - About 10,000 census surveys in Brooklyn are being redone after two local managers reportedly filled out many of the household surveys themselves, officials said.

Tony Farthing, the regional director of the Census Bureau, said that over the weekend of June 12, the two managers, Alvin Aviles and Sonya Merritt, began using online databases to fill out household surveys instead of collecting the information the correct way: by knocking on doors.

Mr. Farthing said Mr. Aviles and Ms. Merritt were fired after census officials, tipped off by whistle-blowers, confirmed the improprieties, which were first reported by The Daily News.

The local census office, at 790 Broadway in Brooklyn, was tasked with conducting 97,000 household surveys in the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and Greenpoint by July 10, Mr. Farthing said. By June 12, 9,000 surveys were still incomplete.

According to Mr. Farthing, Mr. Aviles and Ms. Merritt began filling out the forms themselves by using research databases, ordering clerks and supervisors to do the same, and telling those who resisted to not bother coming back to work.

One supervisor quit on the spot, Mr. Farthing said, and seven clerks were let go. Several workers from the office then complained to the regional bureau, Mr. Farthing said, prompting an inquiry that showed forms had indeed been improperly filled out.

It was not clear how many forms had been faked, Mr. Farthing said, but every survey processed after June 12 was to be discarded and conducted again properly.

Mr. Aviles, who had worked for the census in 2000, and Ms. Merritt, who was hired in May, could not immediately be reached for comment. They were dismissed on June 18. Mr. Farthing said no criminal charges had been filed.

The seven clerks who were told to leave by Mr. Aviles and Ms. Merritt, along with the supervisor who quit, were all called back to work.

Mr. Farthing, who has worked with the Census Bureau for 30 years, said this type of fraud — involving two managers — was, in his experience, a first.

NY Times
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