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Post date: February 17 2015

A.G. Schneiderman and I.G. Leahy-Scott Announce 57-count Felony Indictment Of NYS Employee Charged With Running Online Trademark Counterfeiting Stores And Stealing State Payroll

Indictment Accuses Albany-Based ITS Employee With Time And Attendance Larceny And Offering For Sale Over $100,000 Of Counterfeit Cell Phone Cases

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Inspector General Catherine Leahy-Scott today announced the indictment of Wajahat A. Abbasi, an employee of the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, for stealing over $38,000 from the state by charging time for which he was not present at work. Abbasi is accused of not being present for significant periods of time on fifty-three separate occasions for which he collected pay from January 2013 to December 2014. In addition, Abbasi is alleged to have possessed for sale over $219,000 in counterfeit cell phone cases. Wajahat A. Abbasi has been charged today with 57 felony counts including Grand Larceny and Trademark Counterfeiting and faces up to 15 years in state prison. Abbasi was arraigned before The Honorable Peter Lynch in Albany County Court.

“Those who serve the public must be held to high ethical standards, and when individuals abuse the trust placed in them, there must be consequences,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “When public employees fail to work the hours for which they are paid, they steal from taxpayers and deprive the public of services they expect.”

“Those who work in the public sector and provide services for the people of the state of New York are expected to accomplish their work duties in a responsible and law abiding fashion,” said Inspector General Scott. “The defendant allegedly abused his position and authority by trafficking in illegal goods on the Internet while on state time. He will be held accountable not only for this activity but also for the falsification of his time and attendance records, which amounts to a larcenous theft from the state.”

Abbasi was a computer programmer for the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), based in the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance at 40 N. Pearl Street in Albany. During the time period when he is accused of collecting pay while not being present for work, he was running a series of businesses that sold technology equipment through Ebay and Amazon. According to court papers, a search warrant conducted at his home in Colonie yielded over $219,000 worth of counterfeit cell phone cases from the manufacturers Griffin, Otterbox and Urban Armor Gear. Investigators from the Inspector General had previously purchased counterfeit cases from Abbasi-controlled companies on Amazon and Ebay.

The indictment charges Wajahat A. Abbasi with one count of Trademark Counterfeiting in the First Degree (a Class C felony); two counts of Trademark Counterfeiting in the Second Degree (a Class E felony); one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class D felony); and fifty-three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (Class E felonies). The top count of the indictment carries a potential prison term, with a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years.

Prosecuting the case are Assistant Attorney General Christopher Baynes of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau with assistance from Senior Counsel Darren Miller of the Public Integrity Bureau. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel Cort, Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The investigation was handled by Investigator Mark Spencer, with support from Antoine Karam and Dominick Zarrella of the Attorney General's Investigations Bureau, with assistance provided by Forensic Auditor Jason Blair and Legal Support Analyst Sara Pogorzelski.

The Attorney General’s Office thanks the Inspector General’s Office for their collaboration on this case.

The charges are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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