The former director of the state prison system’s food operations – who cheated state taxpayers out of a half million dollars using falsified travel and attendance documents – pleaded guilty to second degree grand larceny in Oneida County Court.  Howard Dean, director of the Department of Corrections’ Food Production Center (DOCS) was paid huge sums for falsified travel reimbursement claims and fraudulently filed attendance records.

He also failed to indicate he took every Friday off for 17 years. The discovery was made by New York State auditors and investigators, together with the State Inspector General’s office.

“There is never a good time to rip off the taxpayers,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “But taking every Friday off for 17 years – and getting paid for it – is particularly galling, especially at a time when so many New Yorkers  are out of work.  Mr. Dean didn’t show up for work, but he’ll have to show up for jail, and there are no Fridays off in prison.  His sentence should send a message to any public official with sticky fingers: watch out – we will find you.”

As part of a plea deal, Dean is expected to be sentenced to 6 months in jail and five years probation.  The probationary period begins at the time of sentencing and runs concurrent to the jail time.  Dean has also agreed to pay $50,000 restitution at arraignment and an additional $50,000 restitution during the 5-year probationary period.

In view of the fraudulent time and attendance records Dean filed, DiNapoli’s office is reviewing his retirement credits for potential recalculation.

DiNapoli’s auditors and investigators, together with the State Inspector General’s office, found that Dean never worked on Fridays but was paid for working full-time at a cost to taxpayers of almost $230,000 -- plus $18,000 in vacation time he never really earned.  Additionally, he cheated the state taxpayers out of $205,000 in improper travel reimbursements, $32,000 for inappropriate use of a state vehicle, and $7,300 in falsified claims for travel expenses.  He lived in state owned housing he wasn't entitled to, valued at $2,900, and he double dipped on meal reimbursements worth $1,800. DiNapoli and the Inspector General published a report on this abuse last April and forwarded it to Oneida County District attorney Scott McNamara.

As a result of a second audit and investigation by DiNapoli’s and the IG’s offices, Dean was also found to have steered contracts to favored vendors in exchange for lavish meals and gifts.  The case centering on those charges has yet to be resolved.

via State Worker Who Took Fridays Off For 17 Years Has Day In Court - WBEN NewsRadio 930 : Buffalo & Niagara Falls, NY.