A.G. Schneiderman And Comptroller DiNapoli Announce Arrest And Indictment Of Defendant Accused Of Theft Of Over $50,000 In New York State Pension Benefits
Defendant Allegedly Stole Pension Benefits Issued To Her Deceased Uncle
ALBANY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the arrest and unsealing of a one-count indictment charging Graycelia Cizik, 64, a resident of Polk County, Florida, with the crime of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, in Albany County Court.
Cizik is alleged to have stolen over $50,000 in pension benefits from the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System, payable to her deceased uncle, David Wynn. Wynn was a New York State pensioner who retired from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and passed away in 1988.
“Those who defraud our state pension system are stealing from every individual who is counting on their pension for a secure retirement, and that is why our office will bring these fraudsters to justice,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “There has to be one set of rules for everyone, and we will hold people accountable when they rip off honest New Yorkers.”
“Graycelia Cizik thought she could stay under the radar and game the state retirement system,” New York State Comptroller DiNapoli said. “Her arrest sends a strong message that we will find those who try and defraud the retirement system, and we will work with law enforcement to prosecute them to the full extent of the law and retrieve the stolen funds.”
The Comptroller’s office uncovered Cizik’s uncle’s death, determined that Cizik had taken the payments, and referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office as part of the Comptroller and Attorney General’s Joint Task force on Public Integrity. According to authorities, Cizik failed to notify the Retirement System of Wynn’s death. Instead, authorities allege, Cizik submitted false information to Wynn’s bank indicating that he was still alive, while she utilized a power of attorney to access his account and withdraw pension benefits paid on his behalf. The indictment alleges that Cizik stole over $50,000 in pension benefits.
Cizik was arrested by agents of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and extradited to Albany County to face the charge. She was arraigned on the indictment before Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough in Albany County Court and entered a plea of not guilty. Cizik was remanded to custody in lieu of a written bail application and will next appear in court on August 27th.
The charges are accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant would face up to 5 to 15 years in state prison.
Attorney General Schneiderman and State Comptroller DiNapoli thank the Polk County, Florida Sheriff’s Office and the Albany County, New York Sheriff’s Office for their assistance.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Clark of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Deputy Bureau Chief of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau for upstate New York is Stephen J. Maher. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.
The investigation was conducted by Investigator Dennis Churns and Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine J. Karam, who were assisted by Investigator Marcia Hinds of the Office of the New York State Comptroller. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.