Corrections officers who were caught bowling, traveling abroad, plead guilty to ‘sick leave fraud’ after over a year away from work

News & Politics

Three former New York City correctional officers have pleaded guilty to fraud after it was revealed that they were fraudulently receiving their salaries while absent from work despite being able to work.

According to the Department of Justice, all three defendants face a maximum of 10 years in prison for stealing taxpayer funds from the New York City Department of Correction.

Documents presented at the guilty plea proceedings showed that one of the city employees took in over $139,000 in salary while on sick leave for nearly two years, from March 2021 to November 2022. The man submitted over 100 fraudulent medical notes and was caught after subpoenas proved that he did not attend any physical therapy appointments, engaging in “normal life activities with no apparent difficulty.”

A female corrections officer made over $80,000 from March 2021 to April 2022, submitting almost 50 fraudulent medical notes. The woman claimed to have multiple injuries, but was shown to have been traveling and attending parties when she claimed to be injured at home. Authorities determined she was able to work at the time.

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The third person to plead guilty, who was also the female officer’s fiancé, took even more unearned salary at $119,000 over the period of June 2021 to October 2022, approximately 16 months.

Video and photographic evidence showed the man performing “home improvement work, bowling, and traveling abroad without any difficulty or help from equipment like an orthopedic boot, sling or cane which he used when attending required check-ins with DOC medical officials.”

“The defendants have admitted stealing taxpayer funds by collecting their full salaries while falsely claiming they were too sick to work,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace.

“Sick leave abuse is a plague on the New York City Department of Correction that puts fellow officers and inmates at risk during the ongoing staffing crisis in the jails. This Office is working with our federal and local law enforcement partners to identify those who exploit the sick leave policy and hold them accountable.”

Jocelyn E. Strauber, commissioner for the New York City Department of Investigation, added that “these correction officers faked medical documentation to take sick leave they were not entitled to in the midst of a city jail staffing crisis.”

“Their conduct — including travel around the country, partying, bowling, and home repairs, on stolen sick leave time — is an insult to the correction officers who do their jobs, who show up to work and risk their personal safety on a daily basis.”

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