New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the unsealing of a one count indictment before the Honorable Peter Lynch charging Terence Fitzpatrick, 43, a resident of Monmouth County, New Jersey, with the crime of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, in Albany County Court. Fitzpatrick is alleged to have stolen over $78,000 in pension benefits from the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System, payable to his deceased godfather, Thomas Sullivan.
"Mr. Fitzpatrick thought he could scheme the retirement system and get away with it. He was wrong," said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "Attorney General Schneiderman and I will continue our partnership to protect public money including the retirement funds that so many New Yorkers depend upon."
"Today's criminal charges send a clear message: if you are accused of stealing from the state pension system, you will face stiff consequences," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "Many New Yorkers count on their pension for a secure retirement, and those who cheat the system are stealing from retirees across the state and across the country."
Sullivan was a New York State pensioner who retired from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. He died in 2003, with his wife collecting benefits until her death in 2006. According to the charges developed by the Comptroller's Office and the Attorney General's Office, Fitzpatrick, who had been acting as power of attorney before Sullivan's death, failed to notify the Retirement System of Sullivan's death, or of Sullivan's wife's death. Instead, authorities allege, Fitzpatrick utilized his power of attorney to access the account and withdraw pension benefits paid on Sullivan's behalf during a six-year period between November 1, 2006 and August 31, 2012. All told, the Comptroller and Attorney General's Office alleges Fitzpatrick stole over $78,000 in pension benefits and liquidated the money during that time period.
Fitzpatrick turned himself in to the New York State Police to face the charge. He was arraigned on the indictment before County Court Judge Peter Lynch in Albany County Court, and entered a plea of not guilty.
The charges are accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant would face up to five to fifteen years in state prison.
The Joint Task Force on Public Integrity is a cooperative effort between Comptroller DiNapoli's and Attorney General Schneiderman's offices to root out public corruption and the misuse of public funds by maximizing the resources of each office.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher Baynes of the Public Integrity Bureau. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney.
The investigation was conducted by the Comptroller's Division of Investigations.
DiNapoli 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 [email protected], or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.