Attorney General Cuomo Announces That A Saint Lawrence County Attorney Will Pay $42,000 To Settle Pension Abuse Case

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 6, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement agreement with a retired Saint Lawrence County Attorney who was improperly listed as an employee of four public sector entities, including the Village of Canton, the Saint Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services (“BOCES”), the Colton Pierrepont School District, and the Lisbon Central School District.

John D. Elmer retired in January 1998 and began receiving a small annual pension through the New York State Employees’ Retirement Fund (“ERS”).  Under the settlement, Elmer will pay the State of New York $42,000, will cease receiving state-funded pension benefits of any kind, and will forfeit any claims to monetary contributions he may have made to ERS in connection with his purported “employments.”

At various times between 1974 and 1998, Elmer was listed as an employee of four public sector entities: the Village of Canton (1974 to 1980), Saint Lawrence-Lewis BOCES (1974 to 1998), Colton-Pierrepont Central School District (1978 to 1987), and Lisbon Central School District (1984 to 1992).  Elmer accrued pension credits with ERS in connection with each of these positions.  However, at each of these positions, he provided legal services as an independent contractor, i.e., as outside retained counsel, and was not entitled to accrue state pension credits for that work. 

“This is more evidence of the fraud in our pension system that has been ripping off New York taxpayers,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Lawyers abusing the public benefits system are costing New Yorkers both tax dollars and public trust.”

Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing statewide investigation of pension abuse includes more than 4,000 local governments and special districts across New York State, all school districts and the 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (“BOCES”).  The investigation has already revealed that many lawyers had improperly remained on public payrolls for such extended periods of time, or were included on the payrolls of so many public sector employers simultaneously, that they accumulated substantial credits in the New York State pension system. 

To date, Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation into fraud and abuse in the public pension systems has returned more $1.28 million to taxpayers through actions involving the conduct of more than 65 attorneys.

The Attorney General’s Office urges individuals with knowledge of any questionable arrangements between any BOCES, local governments, or school districts and their outside professionals to contact the Public Integrity Bureau by telephone at 212-416-8090 or by e-mail at

The settlement announced today was handled by Assistant Attorney General Darcy M. Goddard.