Three State Employees Accused Of Filing False Claims To Obtain Workers' Compensation Benefits
BUFFALO, N.Y. (May 28, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrests of two current and one former New York State Department of Correctional Services employees who received workers’ compensation benefits while allegedly engaged in other employment, and lied about their subsequent employment in order to continue to receive benefits.
“The cost of state employees wrongfully obtaining workers’ compensation benefits falls upon all New York taxpayers,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office is committed to working with all state agencies and the State Insurance Fund to investigate and prosecute any individual who attempts to corrupt our system and steal taxpayer dollars by illegally obtaining benefits.”
Scott R. Tadt, 45, of Fredonia, Jennifer A. Dubel, 36, of Springville, and Joseph T. Fiederowicz, 45, of Buffalo, have been charged with Fraudulent Practices in violation of the Workers’ Compensation Law, and the Penal Law crimes of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree. The most serious charge is a class D felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
Dubel, Tadt and Fiederowicz were arraigned before Acting Buffalo City Court Judge Daniel P. Grasso and were released on their own recognizance pending further court appearances on June 18.
Tadt, a New York State corrections officer assigned to the Lakeview Shock Correctional Facility in Brocton claimed that he was injured in a work-related incident with an inmate in August 2007. Tadt was entitled to receive his full pay in the form of workers’ compensation benefits from the New York State Insurance Fund and supplemental benefits from the New York State Department of Correctional Services. To maintain continuing benefits, Tadt submitted a document to the State Insurance Fund on or about January 12, 2008, in which he denied engaging in any work activity. However, video surveillance tapes from November 2007 show Tadt working for Tadt Concrete in Fredonia. The felony complaint alleges that Tadt obtained approximately $16,982.97 in benefits that he was not entitled to receive.
Dubel, a Licensed Practical Nurse employed by the Department of Correctional Services at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, also claimed that she was injured in a work-related incident with an inmate in April 2006. Dubel was also entitled to receive workers’ compensation and supplemental benefits from the state. Dubel submitted documents to the State Insurance Fund on September 10, 2006, and November 1, 2006, in which she denied engaging in any work activity. However, records obtained from the Department of the Army indicate that Dubel was on active duty in the reserves and being paid for her services as a health care specialist for weekend duty in May, July, September and November 2006, as well as a two-week period in August 2006. The felony complaint alleges that Dubel obtained approximately $13,698.60 in benefits that she was not entitled to receive.
Fiederowicz, a former corrections officer, was assigned to the Attica Correctional Facility when he claimed that he was injured in a work-related incident with an inmate in May 2005, making him eligible for workers’ compensation and supplemental benefits. Fiederowicz submitted a document to the State Insurance Fund on February 20, 2007, in which he denied engaging in any work activity. However, video surveillance tapes from January 2007 show Fiederowicz working as a bartender and a cook at a tavern in Buffalo. The felony complaint alleges that Fiederowicz obtained approximately $12,512.69 in benefits that he was not entitled to receive
New York State Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Brian Fischer said, “We at the Department of Correctional Services take our responsibility to protect State taxpayers’ dollars seriously, and we investigate all allegations of fraud. Our Department’s probe of these particular abuses led to the coordinated, multi-agency effort that resulted in today’s arrests. I want to thank Attorney General Cuomo for taking the lead and producing today’s result. I hope this will send a clear message to those who seek to abuse a critical program designed to assist employees who become injured in the line of duty.”
Chief Executive Officer David P. Wehner of the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) said, “Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. Rather, it affects everyone by increasing the price of goods and services that we pay for every day, placing an added and unnecessary strain on the economy, on business, on working men and women, and on families. This prosecution by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo signifies that combating Worker’s Compensation fraud is a responsibility we all share and take very seriously.”
Workers’ Compensation Board Commissioner Zachary S. Weiss said, “These prosecutions reflect our continuing efforts to combat the fraudulent practices that tax the workers' compensation system and raise the cost of insurance for everyone. Whenever a workers’ compensation fraud is prosecuted, the real beneficiaries are New York’s workers, its honest businesses, rate payers and consumers. I congratulate the attorney general in bringing this action and applaud the hard work of the investigators.”
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Cydney Kelly and Paul McCarthy under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Deputy Chief Richard Ernst. A team of investigators conducted the investigation, including the DOCS Inspector General’s Office Workman’s Compensation Unit, State Insurance Fund Senior Investigator Robert Davis and Investigator Sandra J. Migaj of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator James L. Domres.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.