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Post date: November 18 2009

Attorney General Cuomo Announces Criminal Charges Against State Employee For Defrauding Workers' Compensation

SYRACUSE, NY (November 18, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced criminal charges have been filed against a North Country corrections officer for fraudulently receiving workers’ compensation benefits in excess of $10,000 over a year-long period.

Martin Friess, 40, of Massena, was arrested and charged today in Town of Salina Town Court with Insurance Fraud (class D felony), False Fillings (class E felony), and Fraudulent Practices (class E felony). Friess is an eight-year veteran of the Department of Corrections and assigned to the Bare Hill Correctional facility in Malone. If convicted, Friess faces up to seven years in state prison.

“Defrauding the taxpayer-funded workers’ compensation fund is tantamount to stealing from every New Yorker,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Workers’ compensation is supposed to help injured workers make ends meet, not line the pockets of those looking to cheat the system.”

According to the complaint, on May 20, 2008, Friess allegedly injured his knee while working as a corrections officer and did not return to work until June 3, 2009. During this time period, Friess applied for and received workers’ compensation benefits. In order to receive these benefits, Friess is alleged to have completed and submitted documents to the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) office in Liverpool which falsely claimed that he had not worked or received pay during his absence from work. An investigation by the NYSIF and the Department of Corrections revealed that at the same time Friess was receiving these insurance benefits, he was actually working and being paid for construction jobs he performed.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Heffner of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Monica Stamm of the Public Integrity Bureau and Special Deputy Attorney General for Public Integrity Ellen Biben.

The charges against Friess are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.