NY Workers' Comp Investigation Leads to Arrest

An investigation by the New York State Office of Workers' Compensation Fraud Inspector General and the New York State Police resulted in the arrest of 49-year-old Gerard Giovinco of Ithaca, N.Y., who is charged with grand larceny in the third degree and felony workers' compensation fraud.

Giovinco filed a workers' compensation claim alleging that on Oct. 12, 1999, he sustained a work-related back injury while employed by Cornell University. He was ultimately awarded wage replacement benefits totaling more than $13,000 over a two-year period.

During the period in which he was receiving medical and wage replacement benefits, Giovinco told his attending physicians that that he was not working and unable to work due to the injury. He also denied, in writing, that he was employed.

A data mining operation created by the Workers' Compensation Board's office of Special Projects, which matches the names of workers' compensation claimants with the Department of Tax and Finance's list of newly hired people across the state, revealed that Giovinco was, in fact, employed by several companies during that time period.

Unfortunately for Giovinco and others looking to defraud the workers' compensation, Gov. George Pataki signed legislation in 1996 elevating workers' compensation fraud from a misdemeanor to a felony. It is punishable by up to four years in prison, fines and restitution.

"Gov. Pataki has made it clear that if unscrupulous people attempt to defraud the workers' compensation system, we will use all of our available resources to find you and prosecute you," said John H. Burgher, inspector general for the Office of Fraud Inspector General. "Our sophisticated data mining operation helped provide the evidence needed to allege that Giovinco willfully and intentionally lied to obtain benefits."

Workers' Compensation Board Chairman Robert R. Snashall noted when Pataki created the Office of Fraud Inspector General, "he sent a strong message that workers' compensation fraud would not be tolerated in New York State. This arrest should serve as a reminder that our investigators are continuously developing new efficient ways to fight costly fraud."

Thousands of leads have been produced and investigated as a result of the new data mining system.

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