Cuomo settles state pension cases for $350,000

Drew Smith Oct. 6, 2008, 3:56pm

Andrew Cuomo (D)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) -- Three New York lawyers have reached settlement agreements with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in which they will be forced to pay the state nearly $350,000.

The two agreements involve cases in which the lawyers falsely reported being employees of various state entities.

In the case of M. Cornelia Cahill, the lawyer claimed to be a "Labor Relations Specialist" for the Hamilton-Fulton Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services (HFM BOCES) from 1998 to 2006.

She was paid approximately $270,000 for the work despite the fact that she didn't perform any labor relations services for the agency.

John R. Sise, Cahill's brother-in-law, was accused of being falsely placed on the BOCES payroll in order to receive retirement benefits he could not receive from his private employer, Siena College in Loudonville.

Cahill allegedly assisted Sise in generating the necessary paperwork to obtain the benefits.

Under the agreement, Cahill will repay the $270,000 to the state, rescind all pension credits she received and forfeit ay claim to contributions she made to the pension system.

Sise will also repay $35,000 under the settlement, $19,000 of which will be returned to Siena as restitution.

In a separate case, John Elmer will pay the state $42,000 for being improperly listed as en employee of four difference public sector entities: the Village of Canton (1974 to 1980), Saint Lawrence-Lewis BOCES (1974 to 1998), Colton-Pierrepont Central School District (1978 to 1987) and Lisbon Central School District (1984 to 1992).

Elmer received pension credits from the agencies despite having worked as an independent contractor. As outside retained council, Elmer wasn't entitled to state pension credits.

"This is more evidence of the fraud in our pension system that has been ripping off New York taxpayers," Cuomo said. "Lawyers abusing the public benefits system are costing New Yorkers both tax dollars and public trust."

Cuomo has been conducting an investigation of the state's pension program and has recovered more than $1.2 million to date.

Earlier this year, Cuomo reached a settlement with the Albany law firm of Girvin & Ferlazzo in the amount of $500,000. He also settled with Binghamton-based Hogan, Sarzynski, Lynch, Surowka & DeWind for $100,000.

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