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February 08, 2023

Retired county police officer alleged to have taken unlawful pension benefits from the New York State and Local Retirement System

On February 7, 2023, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Ulster County District Attorney David J. Clegg announced the indictment* of a former Ulster County BOCES criminal justice instructor, a retired Westchester County Police Officer. The retired police officer allegedly stole over $163,000 from the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) by taking unlawful pension payments and forging a required certificate purportedly issued by the State Education Department (SED).

“The defendant allegedly submitted forged documents to scam the New York state retirement system,” DiNapoli said. “He will now face the consequences of his actions. Safeguarding the New York State and Local Retirement System and maintaining its integrity are priorities for my office. I thank District Attorney Clegg, the State Education Department and the State Police for their partnership in holding accountable those who think they can swindle the pension system.”

After retiring from the Westchester Police Department in 2005, Anthony Sciacca was hired as an instructor at Ulster County BOCES teaching criminal justice and earning a salary of over $70,000. As a retiree under the age of 65 at the time, without a waiver, Sciacca was not allowed to earn more than $30,000 annually in other New York State public employment while continuing to receive his full NYSLRS pension benefit.**

The joint investigation revealed that while Sciacca had a lawful waiver from Sept.1, 2005 through June 30, 2011, he did not have a lawful waiver for the next eight years. However, he continued to earn his Ulster County BOCES public salary in excess of $70,000 on top of receiving his monthly NYSLRS pension payments.

When the NYSLRS discovered that Sciacca’s income was over the limit and that it had no waivers on file, Sciacca’s pension was suspended, and he was asked to provide copies of any waivers he had been granted. In response to NYSLRS’ inquiry, Sciacca allegedly supplied the retirement system with falsified documents. These documents stated that his waivers had been approved.

The investigation revealed that these documents were fraudulent, and that no such waivers had been obtained. Through his scheme, Sciacca was able to collect over $163,000 in NYSLRS pension payments to which he was not entitled.

DiNapoli’s investigation was spurred by SED’s examination of Sciacca’s credentials. During this review, SED also discovered that Sciacca had allegedly forged a document to show that he had received a “Security Operations, Professional Certificate,” which was a requirement of his continued BOCES employment. 

Sciacca was arraigned in Ulster County Criminal Court before Judge Bryan E. Rounds on Feb. 6, 2023, and is due back in court on Feb. 22, 2023. He was charged with Scheme to Defraud, Grand Larceny, Defrauding the Government, four counts of Forgery, two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing, two counts of Falsifying a Business Record and Retirement Fraud. Ulster County Assistant District Attorney Felicia S. Raphael, chief of the Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, is prosecuting the case.

The charges add to those first brought against him when he was arrested on July 14, 2022, which then included Grand Larceny, three counts of Forgery, three counts of Filing a False Instrument, three counts of Falsifying Business Records and one count of retirement fraud.

* The charges filed in this case are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

** See, generally, Article 7 of the Retirement and Social Security Law, which addresses the reemployment of retired public employees of the State of New York in the public service in the State of New York.

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Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at https://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 8th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.

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