New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice today announced the guilty plea of retired Suffolk County Police Detective Sergeant Terrance Hoffman for taking $465,647 in illegal pension payments from the New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System.
“This is an egregious exploitation of public funds,” DiNapoli said. “By partnering with District Attorney Rice’s office, we were able to protect the integrity of the state pension fund, recoup the stolen money, and send a clear warning to those who try to defraud the system. I thank District Attorney Rice for her diligent work on this case.”
“Our public retirement programs are a critical part of our safety net for retirees and their families – not a piggy bank for those looking to game the system while drawing a higher salary than the law allows,” Rice said. “With the help of Comptroller DiNapoli, we will work to ensure fairness for retirees and to maintain the fiscal health of our public retirement system for future generations of public servants.”
The investigation was made possible by a 2012 law, proposed by DiNapoli, which gave the State Comptroller access to the state Department of Taxation and Finance's wage reporting system to identify state retirement system retirees, working for local governments, whose earnings exceed post-retirement earnings limitations.
Hoffman, 65, of Shirley, pleaded guilty in Nassau County District Court Part 9P today to permitting falsification of records of the retirement system, a D felony, in an attempt to obtain unlawful pension payments from 1996 to 2012. As part of his guilty plea, he must repay the almost half-a-million dollars that he acquired illegally.
Hoffman is due back in court on September 10 for a pre-sentence conference.
Investigators found that Hoffman pocketed $465,647 in unlawful pension payments while earning a final full-time salary of $112,000 with Nassau Community College. Hoffman was repeatedly notified of the earnings limitations and the requirement to report his public income, but chose not to. Findings include:
Hoffman retired from the Suffolk County Police Department, then took a job with the college without notifying the State Comptroller’s office of his return to public employment;
Hoffman failed to comply with the earnings limitations that apply to public retirees collecting a public pension and didn’t obtain a waiver allowing him to earn above the legal limit; and
Hoffman joined the state’s Optional Retirement Program while continuing to receive his full pension. State law prohibits retirees collecting a public pension from joining a second public retirement system.
The case was investigated by Comptroller DiNapoli’s Division of Investigations and Division of Retirement Services jointly with Nassau District Attorney personnel. It is being prosecuted by Asst. District Attorney Jason Herman of District Attorney Rice’s Public Corruption Bureau and Asst. District Attorney Andrew Weiss, Deputy Chief of District Attorney Rice’s Economic Crimes Bureau. Hoffman is represented by Thomas Spreer.
Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and fraud against the state’s retirement system and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.