July 9, 2015
By Jerry Levine, LaborPress Albany Bureau
Albany, NY – Comptroller DiNapoli and A.G. Schneiderman have announce charges against a Georgia resident for stealing New York State pension benefits. Richard L. Cook III, is charged with stealing over $200,000 in pension payments from New York's Retirement System paid to his deceased mother, Yvonne Powell, a New York State pensioner who died in 2009. Cook was arrested in Georgia and extradited to Albany County to face the indictment.
“Mr. Cook allegedly thought he could get away with defrauding the state retirement system of over $200,000. He was mistaken,” Comptroller DiNapoli said. “I will continue to protect our retirement system from fraud, whether the perpetrators are in New York or Atlanta, Georgia, where Mr. Cook lives.”
Cook, who served as executor to his mother’s estate, failed to notify the Retirement System of Powell’s death. Instead, authorities allege, Cook routinely accessed the pension funds deposited into a joint account he had held with his mother and liquidated approximately $3,500 per month in pension benefits from March 2009 through December 2013. All told, the Attorney General’s and Comptroller’s Office allege that Cook stole over $200,000 in pension benefits in that time period.
“Theft from our state’s pension system is detrimental to all New York taxpayers and robs retirees who rely on their hard-earned pensions,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Through our Operation Integrity partnership, Comptroller DiNapoli and I will continue working tirelessly to root out and prosecute those who commit pension fraud, and protect taxpayer dollars.”
This case is one of several joint investigations between the Comptroller and Attorney General, which has resulted in dozens of convictions and more than $11 million in restitution. In 2015 alone, the collaboration has resulted in a prison sentence for a Florida woman who stole $100,000 from the pension system and the indictments of two New Jersey residents for allegedly defrauding the system of over $100,000 each.