State Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty In Workers' Compensation Scam

March 27, 2007 – New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the guilty plea of a New York State corrections officer who fraudulently obtained workers’ compensation benefits.

Bruce Kelly, 44, of Hamburg, New York, pleaded guilty before Acting Erie County Court Judge Thomas P. Amodeo to one count of Fraudulent Practices in violation of the Workers’ Compensation Law and one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, both class E felonies. Kelly was sentenced by Judge Amodeo to make full restitution to the state and forfeit his right to seek any future workers’ compensation benefits.

In June 2005, Kelly, who was then assigned to the Gowanda Correctional Facility, claimed that he injured his left shoulder, chest, and lower back while working, preventing him from performing as a corrections officer until March 2006. As a result of the claim, Kelly began receiving workers’ compensation insurance benefits. To maintain the benefits, Kelly submitted a document to the State Insurance Fund on October 20, 2005, in which he denied engaging in any work activity. However, video surveillance tapes from September and October 2005 showed Kelly actively engaged in work for a Buffalo-area roofing company.

Kelly was charged in December 2006 and subsequently suspended from his position. He resigned March 6 after serving more than 19 years as a state employee and made full restitution of almost $20,000 to the State Insurance Fund.

“Cheating New York’s taxpayers to fraudulently obtain workers’ compensation will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Workers compensation is not a slush fund for early retirement and my office will ensure it goes to the people who legitimately need it.”

The Attorney General thanked the New York State Insurance Fund and the Department of Correctional Services for working with his office during the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Paul McCarthy under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Deputy Chief Viola I. Abbitt. The investigation was conducted by DOCS Senior Investigator Thomas P. Wall, SIF Senior Investigator Robert Davis and Supervising Investigator James Domres of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator James Horton.