Attorneys settle pension abuse allegations with Cuomo

John O'Brien Jan. 26, 2009, 5:43pm


ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - Two more settlements have been reached in New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's investigation into abuse of the state's pension system by attorneys.

Terence E. Smoley of Long Island will pay $15,000 to resolve allegations that he was improperly listed as a part-time employee of a school district for 23 years, and Michael Sherwood of Vestal will settle the same allegations for $10,000.

"My office continues to uncover evidence of fraud and abuse in the state pension system and New York taxpayers continue footing the bill," Cuomo said Monday.

"I will continue to aggressively pursue those who rip off New York's taxpayers and seek the return of that money to the State."

Since last year, Cuomo has been investigating attorneys who have been hired to represent school districts, thus landing on the district's payroll. As a result, the attorneys, he says, illegally gathered retirement benefits from the public fund paid by taxpayers.

Smoley, he argues, was an independent contractor for the services he performed for the North Merrick Union Free School District. From 1975-98, he also received taxpayer-funded family health and dental benefits.

Cuomo has subpoenaed 70 upstate law firms and 20 from the Long Island area, as well as every Board of Cooperative Educational Service in the state.

So far, more than $1.6 million in settlements has been returned to the State. The amount comes from agreements with more than 70 attorneys and other professionals.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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