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September 17, 2010

 

DiNapoli: $88,000 Pension Padding
Scheme Uncovered in Oneida County

DiNapoli's Investigation Identified Nine Years of Abuse by Retired Rome City Police Officer



Former Director of Security for the Rome City School District and retired Rome city police officer Thomas C. Hubal was indicted this week for illegally collecting more than $88,000 from the New York State and Local Retirement System over a nine-year period, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today.  

“Local governments across the state are struggling to make ends meet,” DiNapoli said.  “Taxpayers can’t afford this kind of abuse. This kind of ‘double-dipping’ drives up costs for municipalities and taxpayers. Local governments have to increase their vigilance to help prevent pension abuse. I am going to seek full restitution for the payments made to Hubal and request he is punished to the full extent of the law.”

According to a report released today by DiNapoli, investigators from the Comptroller’s Investigations Unit and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara’s office, found Hubal was working for the Rome City School District without having obtained a waiver from the state Civil Service Commission, as required by state law, and without notifying the Comptroller’s Office that he would be returning to public employment.  

New York State Retirement and Social Security Law provides that a public pension retiree may temporarily return to work for a public entity without a reduction in existing retirement benefits, provided the retiree satisfies specific legal requirements to do so. Hubal circumvented those legal requirements.

“My office is committed to investigating and prosecuting these types of fraudulent acts being perpetrated against the taxpayers of Oneida County and New York State,” said District Attorney Scott McNamara. “I would like to thank the current Rome City School District Administration for their cooperation in this matter.”


The defendant was arraigned in Oneida County Court on Friday, September 17th and charged with second-degree grand larceny and defrauding the government, both felonies.

DiNapoli launched the investigation after his office was tipped-off to Hubal’s alleged improper and illegal post-retirement employment. Investigators found evidence to suggest that others in the district attempted to help Hubal illegally “double-dip,” commencing with Hubal’s hiring by district officials in 1995 and their disregard for standards set forth in New York State Retirement laws.

Investigators also found evidence that suggests district officials allowed Hubal to collect funds for travel and other expenses without the required documentation to support such expenses.  From January 2001 through March 2009, Hubal received more than $20,000 for these unsupported expenses.

DiNapoli recommends the district:

  • Continue to provide support to the Comptroller’s Investigation Unit, Oneida County  District Attorney and all other state and federal investigative and prosecutorial entities as needed in any current and/or future actions;
  • Recover all inappropriate travel payments to Hubal;
  • Conduct a thorough risk assessment and continue to review policies and practices that are vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse and corruption;
  • Improve internal controls with respect to employment, procurement, contracting and  reimbursement practices;
  • Continue to work with the Board of Education members to assure that members are informed and not misled about matters concerning taxpayer dollars; and
  • Require administrative personnel to attend training for employment, procurement, contracting, reimbursement, and income reporting practices,and subsequently ensure that training is provided to district staff.

DiNapoli is working diligently to crack down on pension-padding, double-dipping and fraud and abuse cases in New York State.  DiNapoli is encouraging the public to help fight against fraud and abuse.  New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud, corruption and abuse of taxpayer money by: calling the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555; filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us; or mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller Investigations Unit, 110 State Street, 14th floor, Albany, NY 12236.

In March 2010, DiNapoli proposed legislation to strengthen municipal ethics laws after a DiNapoli audit identified widespread disparities in how local governments oversee financial disclosure rules and enforce ethics requirements.  He also released a model code of ethics for local governments.



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