By JOHN PURCELL
Recorder News Staff
ALBANY — A former Amsterdam employee pleaded guilty to defrauding the Workers’ Compensation system of $15,000, according to state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.
William Forte, 51, of Coolidge Road, Amsterdam, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Amsterdam City Court to attempted workers’ compensation fraud, a misdemeanor, with restitution in the amount of $15,000, according to Leahy Scott. Forte was released pending sentencing on May 31.
“This defendant hoped to hide his public employment for his own personal gain, but ended up with a criminal conviction and a restitution bill of $15,000,” Leahy Scott said in a prepared statement. “I will continue to use my office to pursue anyone who compromises the Workers’ Compensation system by stealing critical benefits to which they are not entitled.”
According to Leahy Scott, Forte allegedly injured his left arm and both hands while employed as a truck driver in 2012. He allegedly began receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits after the purported injury.
Forte had continued to receive benefits since the summer of 2014 while repeatedly telling his doctors and insurance company that he was not working in any capacity. However, he was observed working as a city employee and using his injured arm to lift tools, paint and climb ladders.
He had been accused of stealing more than $16,000 in workers’ compensation benefits he was not entitled to.
State law requires employers to maintain Workers’ Compensation coverage for their employees, who are expected to provide truthful information regarding their work activity to insurance carriers and the Workers’ Compensation Board during the time they are receiving benefits.
“Workers’ Compensation fraud impacts all New Yorkers, from increased insurance premiums to increased workloads for coworkers and an overall reduction in workforce productivity,” the Inspector General’s Office said in a press release.
Leahy Scott thanked the City of Amsterdam for assisting with the investigation, the Amsterdam Police Department for assisting with the arrest, and Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski for prosecuting the case.