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Correction officer from Clifton Park charged with fraud

Correction officer from Clifton Park charged with fraud

State says he worked as bouncer, when he said he was injured
Correction officer from Clifton Park charged with fraud
Photographer: Shutterstock

ALBANY -- A state correction officer from Clifton Park worked as a bouncer in Troy while he took workers' compensation from the state for a claimed injury, state Inspector General's officials said Thursday.

Benjamin Essenter, 44, was faces multiple charges, including fourth-degree grand larceny, officials said.

Essenter served as a correction officer at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility in Greene County when he reported a work-related injury in the summer of 2016. He stopped working at the prison and received workers' compensation benefits, saying he wasn't working at all, officials said. Essenter also submitted a medical examination report indicating he had not worked in any capacity, officials said.

State investigators, however, determined that in late 2016, he worked at the Troy bar and was paid off the books, officials said.

"This defendant is charged with a deliberate abuse of a benefits program meant to assist honest and hard-working New Yorkers who become disabled through a work-related injury,” said Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, in a prepared statement. "I will continue dedicating the resources of my office to protect the integrity of the state’s vital workers' compensation system and pursue anyone who takes advantage of it."

Essenter also faces charges of fourth-degree insurance fraud and the workers’ compensation crime of fraudulent practices, officials said. All three charges are felonies.

Essenter was arraigned in Colonie and was released to return to court later.

The state Department of Financial Services and the state Insurance Fund assisted in the investigation. Colonie police assisted in the arrest, and the Albany County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting.

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