JULY 17, 2008
A statewide investigation of lawyers and other professionals who work limited hours for local governments yet illegally collect full benefits has already saved New York taxpayers nearly $1 million and more savings appear to be on the horizon.
The state attorney general’s office has so far identified more than 200 part-time professionals who were milking various cities, towns and other local government bodies such as water boards by getting coveted government pensions and other benefits reserved for full-time employees. The problem seems to be worst in the western part of the state, where nearly two dozen individuals have been busted for cheating taxpayers with these sorts of illegal arrangements.
The abuses were discovered during a smaller investigation into several public school districts and have expanded to include fraud and corruption in more than 4,000 local and special government entities. So far it has led to the recovery of more than $900,000 from lawyers who improperly got public pensions and other valuable benefits that they were not entitled to.
A few months ago a prominent area law firm (Hodgson Russ) agreed to pay the state $50,000 after getting busted for improper employment deals with a public state education board that ironically was created by the legislature to save taxpayers money. New York’s attorney general called it the tip of the iceberg and evidently he was right.
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