Buffalo, NY – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. recently announced that Patrick S. O’Mara, 54, of Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of wire fraud related to falsely claiming he had been injured on duty as a police officer, was sentenced to six months in prison and two years supervised release by Senior U.S. District Judge William M Skretny. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution to the City of Buffalo totaling $103,946.28.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Rogowski, who handled the case, stated that in February, 2004, the defendant, a Buffalo Police Officer, was placed on Injured on Duty Status (IOD) by the City of Buffalo. O’Mara was placed on IOD status for cervical and lumbar strains suffered while on duty. The defendant remained on IOD status until October, 2004 when he was ordered to return to light duty. In 2005, O’Mara again claimed to have injured his right arm, this time while purportedly lifting two reams of copy paper. While the defendant did not report the injury to his superiors until 23 days later, the defendant was placed on IOD status once again in September, 2005, where he remained up until 2102, the time he was initially arrested and charged in this case. Following the defendant’s arrest, the defendant filed for retirement from the Police Department.
During the course of the investigation, the Government learned that the defendant’s primary care physician did not recommend that O’Mara return to work. Contradicting this position, several independent medical exams concluded that the defendant was not permanently disabled. One doctor noted that the defendant walked into his office using a cane, but later witnessed O’Mara walking in the parking lot without any limp.
Additional investigation determined that the defendant was working another job while simultaneously claiming he was too injured to perform even light duty for the Buffalo Police Department. The work involved serving as a paid musical director and church organist which involved the use of the same arm the defendant claimed he injured in 2005 while lifting the lifting the two reams of paper.
At the time of the defendant’s arrest in May, 2012, the defendant admitted that he was capable of performing light duty for the Police Department. The defendant claimed that the reason he stayed on IOD was that he considered it to be “demeaning” to sit at a desk and answer the telephone, and further, that the pay he received while on IOD status was an incentive to remain off-duty since the pay was tax-free. In Court, the defendant attributed his fraud to being “greedy.”
O’Mara’s was one of two Buffalo Police Officers charged with defrauding the IOD Program. Since the filing of both cases by the Government, the number of Buffalo Police officers on IOD status has declined from well over one hundred officers to under 20. The second defendant charged in connection with the IOD investigation, Robert Quintana, is pending trial for mail and health care fraud. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda.