John O'Brien Apr. 18, 2008, 2:36pm
NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - School organizations across New York have been subpoenaed by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is investigating misuse of pension funds paid for by taxpayers.
Cuomo widened his probe Friday to include all 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services in the state. Initially, he had requested information from 70 upstate attorneys and 20 from Long Island who he believed may have been put on the payrolls of school organizations and received taxpayer-funded pension benefits from them.
"We have reason to believe some BOCES may have unclean hands in this situation and that there may have been financial benefits for the BOCES to list professionals as employees instead of as independent consultants," Cuomo said.
"There appears to be a chronic fraud that has occurred across New York State for many years, and we will work until we get to the bottom of it."
Cuomo said many attorneys appear on the payrolls of multiple BOCES or school districts, and some of them did not provide any legal services.
"Fraudulent placement of professionals on public payrolls can cost New Yorkers tens of millions of dollars by giving pension benefits to those who would otherwise be ineligible and by giving unwarranted state aid to school districts," Cuomo said.
"At the end of this investigation, we want to be able to propose reforms to prevent this widespread abuse from occurring again in New York State."
One attorney was on the payrolls of seven school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services in one year and may have gained more than $700,000 in pension benefits.