New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that Renee Kanas, 64, a resident of Tamarac, Florida, was sentenced in Albany County Supreme Court today to 6 months incarceration and 5 years of probation, $45,000 in restitution and a judgment in the amount of $103,092.24 for stealing over $148,000 in New York state pension benefits. Kanas previously pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, in June 2016.
“Ms. Kanas dishonored her deceased father by pretending he was alive and pocketing his pension,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. “Thanks to our Operation Integrity partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman, she has been convicted and will now be held accountable for the $148,000 she stole.”
“When individuals steal from New York’s pension system, it hurts hardworking taxpayers across the state,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “That Ms. Kanas took it upon herself to collect her deceased father’s pension makes this all the more disgraceful. This sentence sends the message, loud and clear, that through our Operation Integrity partnership, Comptroller DiNapoli and I will keep working to protect taxpayer dollars, root out pension fraud and hold those responsible for it accountable.”
Kanas concealed her father’s passing in March 2010 from the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System, and continued to collect his pension benefits for over four years. Today, Kanas was sentenced for stealing pension benefits intended for her father, Jacob Yudenfreund, from March 2010 through January 2015. In total, Kanas stole $148,092.24 by accessing a joint bank account she held with her deceased father, liquidating all but $1,207.55 from the account.
Mr. Yudenfreund was a New York State pensioner who elected to receive reduced monthly benefits so his wife, Doris Yudenfreund, would continue to receive benefits after his death. Mrs. Yudenfreund, however, predeceased Mr. Yudenfreund. As such, upon Mr. Yudenfreund’s passing in March 2010, his pension benefits ceased. However, due to Kanas’ concealment from the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System of her father’s death, she continued to collect his pension benefits for approximately five years. During this time period, Kanas lived off of the stolen money and, among other things, took multiple cruises, including to the Caribbean.
In May 2016, Kanas was arrested on a warrant by the city of Tamarac Road Patrol and Broward County Sherriff’s in Florida. After being brought to Albany County, New York to face these charges, in June 2016, Kanas pleaded guilty before Honorable Thomas A. Breslin in Albany Supreme Court. Today, she was sentenced to 6 months incarceration and 5 years of probation, $45,000 in restitution to New York State, and signed a confession of judgment for the remaining amount stolen of $103,092.24.
The investigation was conducted by the New York State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations and the Attorney General. This case is the latest joint investigation under the Operation Integrity partnership of the Attorney General and Comptroller, which to date has resulted in dozens of convictions and more than $11 million in restitution.
Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli thank the city of Tamarac Road Patrol and Broward County Sheriff’s in Florida for their assistance.
The Comptroller’s investigation was conducted by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations, working with the New York State and Local Retirement System.
The Attorney General’s investigation was conducted by Investigator Mark Spencer, Investigator Casey Quinlan and Deputy Chief Antoine Karam. Forensic accounting was performed by Associate Forensic Auditor Meaghan Scovello. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Chief Auditor Edward J. Keegan.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Philip V. Apruzzese of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton.
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 [email protected], or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.