7 charged in workers comp fraud on LI

October 22, 2009 3:41:46 PM PDT
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that a sweep targeting county residents who steal undeserved workers' compensation and insurance benefits has resulted in charges being filed against seven people who, combined, stole more than $50,000. Sean Tolliver apparently likes to stay in shape. Prosecutors say he runs two and a half miles to the gym, works out, and runs two and a half miles home.

But he used a cane when he told the workers' compensation board that he was disabled and unable to return to his desk job as a Nassau County social worker.

Over the past several months investigators say he collected more than $17,000.

Six people have been arrested, a seventh is still being sought. All are charged with making false workers' compensation and insurance claims.

John Buonagura claimed he injured his back while working as a Nassau County bridge operator, Yet prosecutors say he quietly took another job repairing dental chairs while collecting nearly $15,000.

The DA says the message is simple, you can run, but you can't hide. Those arrested could face up to seven years in jail but the fact is they won't.

"These seven people have stolen money out of our hands and put it in their own wallets," Rice said. "We will be seeking full restitution for the money these defendants stole from honest taxpayers. With the help of our fellow agencies, we will aggressively prosecute any individual who abuses a system designed to provide for people with real injuries and real needs."

Prosecutors admitted today that most if not all of them would avoid jail by paying restitution.

"The people who commit this kind of fraud place an even bigger burden on New York's honest workers and employers, and we will not tolerate people who try to scam the system," said County Executive Tom Suozzi. "I have a message for those people; let these cases put you on notice: we're watching, and if you're cheating, we'll catch you. I commend all of the departments involved in this investigation for their efforts in this investigation."

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