State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office announced that the New York State Employees’ Retirement System is recalculating the pension of a former director at the state Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) after an investigation by his office found that he took Fridays off for 17 years at taxpayer expense.
Howard Dean, 66, of Locke, N.Y., pleaded guilty last year to second degree grand larceny and is awaiting sentencing by Oneida County Judge Barry Donalty. On Tuesday, Judge Donalty postponed Dean’s sentencing to May 10. The case is being prosecuted by Oneida County District Attorney Scott D. McNamara.
Meanwhile, the Comptroller’s office has cut Dean’s annual state retirement benefit by nearly $4,000 and is seeking recovery of $13,500 in pension payments made since his 2008 retirement, based on his admission that he was paid for 17 years of Fridays that he did not work.
“This recalculation and the prosecution sends a key message to any abuser entrusted with public funds: we will find you, we will hold you accountable and we will make you pay,” DiNapoli said. “My office will not tolerate abuses of the state pension system. When a person commits fraud which boosts their pension benefits, we will aggressively seek to cut their payments to account for their theft to the full extent of the law.”
DiNapoli is pushing proposed legislation to elevate official misconduct to a felony and force public officials to pay penalties of up to twice the amount gained by their crimes.
An investigation and audit by DiNapoli and the State’s Inspector General’s office found that Dean defrauded the state of nearly $500,000 in unearned salary and improper perks while serving as director of the DOCS Food Production Center in Rome, N.Y.
Dean freely admitted to auditors that he did not work Fridays for 17 years and the investigation concluded that he had the support of senior management in many of his improprieties. Since then, DOCS has indicated that it has improved internal controls and trained staff to identify fraud and abuse.
The State Comptroller encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud, corruption or abuse of taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint by mail complaint by writing to: Office of the State Comptroller, Investigations Unit, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236 or online by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .