Man admits cheating state, online customers

A state employee accused of defrauding both the taxpayers by failing to show up for work and his onl
Wajahat Abbasi
Wajahat Abbasi

A state employee accused of defrauding both the taxpayers by failing to show up for work and his online customers by selling counterfeit goods has admitted to both offenses in court, the state Attorney General’s Office said.

Wajahat Abbasi, 37, of Colonie, skipped significant periods of work on 53 separate occasions over a two-year period, being paid while also running his online business, officials said.

“The defendant violated his public trust by lying about the time he worked for the state, stealing from the taxpayers by using state time to make a personal profit on the Internet,” Inspector General Catherine Leahy-Scott said in a statement. “His violation of the public trust and illegal commercial activity has consequences, and I am pleased that the profits he reaped from his misconduct are being recovered.”

Abbasi pleaded guilty to both fourth-degree grand larceny for taking $38,000 in salary from the state for hours not worked between January 2013 and December 2014 and second-degree trademark counterfeiting for selling counterfeit cellphone cases. He is to receive five years’ probation and also agreed to forfeit $120,000, a total that includes $38,000 in restitution to the state for the wages.

He also agreed to formally resign as a computer programmer for the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance on North Pearl Street in Albany.

While he was failing to show up for work, Abbasi was running a series of businesses that sold technology equipment on eBay and Amazon, the Attorney General’s Office said.

At his home, authorities found more than $219,000 worth of counterfeit cellphone cases bearing various companies’ names.

Investigators from the state Inspector General’s Office purchased counterfeit cases from online stores controlled by Abbasi, officials said.

“Public servants are expected to be held to the highest ethical standards, and when they violate the public’s trust, there must be consequences,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “When a public employee fails to work the hours for which they are paid, it deprives all taxpayers of the services they expect and deserve.”

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply