Legal Ethics

More NY Lawyers Settle in Pension Probe; $1.28M Recovered to Date by AG

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Several more New York lawyers have settled with the state attorney general in an ongoing probe of attorneys in private practice who for years have simultaneously earned benefits and government pension fund credit by being reported as employees of school districts and other government entities.

So far, the probe has netted some $1.28 million in settlements from 65 attorneys, according to Andrew Cuomo, the state attorney general. Among the latest to settle, he says, are M. Cornelia Cahill, the wife of Richard Sise, the chief judge of the State Court of Claims; his brother, John Sise; and John Elmer, a retired lawyer from upstate St. Lawrence County, reports Newsday.

Cahill has agreed to repay $270,000 to the system, Sise has agreed to repay $35,000 and Elmer has agreed to repay $42,000. Lawyers for Sise and Elmer said they hadn’t intended to do anything wrong, and Cahill’s counsel emphasized that her government client had received the services it contracted for. Both Cahill and Sise formerly worked for the Girvin and Ferlazzo law firm in Albany.

“Cuomo said Judge Sise had nothing to do with the pension abuses but has agreed to recuse himself from hearing cases involving the attorney general’s office for the next two years,” the Newsday article notes.

Meanwhile, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has removed three Long Island lawyers from the pension roll because they, too, were independent contractors rather than employees, and reduced the amount of pension credit for a fourth Long Island lawyer, according to the Capitol Confidential blog of the Albany Times Union. That brings to 39 the total number of attorneys he has either removed from the pension system or reduced pension credit for.

The three attorneys are: John Ragano; Gerald Rosenberg; and Armand Terpening. Pension credit was reduced for Anthony Sabino.

Related coverage:

N.Y. Attorney General (press release): “Attorney General Cuomo Announces That a Saint Lawrence County Attorney Will Pay $42,000 to Settle Pension Abuse Case”

N.Y. Attorney General (press release): “Attorney General Cuomo Announces That Two Capital Region lawyers Will Pay More Than $300,000 to Settle Case Arising from Abuse of Public Benefits Systems” “Two N.Y. Lawyers Get Pension Tabs: $84K and $600K”

Newsday: “Cuomo: 90 attorneys’ pensions ‘potentially fraudulent’ “

Newsday: “Cuomo: Lawyer pensions on school payrolls are ‘fraud’ “ “Feds and State Investigate N.Y. Lawyer Who ‘Worked’ 1,286 Days in a Year”

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