Two Syracuse, N.Y. Men Charged with Workers’ Comp Check Fraud

May 19, 2006

Two Syracuse, N.Y. men have been charged in connection with a forged check scheme that resulted in their indictments in Onondaga County in November, 2004.

The two men later fled New York to avoid prosecution, according to New York State Insurance Fund CEO/Executive Director David P. Wehner who announced the arrest.

Officials said the men, being sought by Syracuse authorities, ultimately were arrested in Georgia on drugs and weapons charges. Georgia authorities contacted their New York counterparts and the individuals were returned to Syracuse to face charges.

“This is not the first time that criminals attempting to steal large amounts of money from NYSIF by using forged checks have been detected, apprehended and prosecuted,” Wehner said. “NYSIF has procedures in place to detect these attempts and to see that they are promptly referred to the authorities.”

In connection with workers’ compensation fraud against NYSIF, authorities said Ira Williams, 38, and Robert Adams, 29, face charges that include criminal possession of a forged instrument, attempted grand larceny, and one count each of third and fourth degree grand larceny.

The investigation that led to these arrests was commenced in October, 2003 when a NYSIF check in the amount of $14, 480 was presented at a credit union in Syracuse. The check could not be traced to a claimant bearing the name of the payee on the check. A second check, bearing the same check number was also presented, raising the suspicions of NYSIF and law enforcement authorities.

In January, 2004 Syracuse Police executed a search warrant in an unrelated case at the home of Ira Williams. The search turned up a “thumb drive” containing the signature of a former NYSIF executive director, apparently used to forge NYSIF checks. After Williams’ arrest, he and Adams fled New York to avoid prosecution. Sealed indictments and arrest warrants relating to the NYSIF charges were handed up in November 2004 for both suspects.

In 2005, they were arrested in Georgia on unrelated charges. It was then that Georgia authorities learned the pair was wanted on arrest warrants issued out of Syracuse.

Williams and Adams were returned to New York in April, arraigned in Onondaga County Court on the indictment, and are being held without bail at the Onondaga Justice Center, according to NYSIF.

Indictments and criminal complaints are accusations only. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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