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Comp official allegedly stretched day of leave into yearlong loot

comp benefits

As a district manager for New York State Workers’ Compensation Board and a tax specialist, Luis Torres should have known that continually accepting accidentally sent payroll tax reimbursements for over one year, stemming from a one-day workers compensation claim, was stealing.

That’s according to New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, who announced Friday that Mr. Torres has been arrested on a grand-theft larceny charge, claiming he stole more than $9,000 by repeatedly cashing payroll checks that he should not have otherwise received.

Mr. Torres went out on workers compensation leave for a single day in September 2017, according a statement from the inspector general’s office. Pursuant to tax regulations for comp payments, Mr. Torres received a reimbursement check for payroll taxes withheld for that day. However, payroll tax reimbursement checks continued to be sent to Mr. Torres during each pay period for more than a year afterwards, and he continued depositing those checks, as well as his regular payroll checks, allegedly knowing he wasn’t entitled to be reimbursed for withheld taxes when he was no longer out on his injury, according to the statement.

Mr. Torres, who also worked a side job as a personal tax filing specialist at a bank, received and deposited more than $9,000 in combined Social Security and Medicare tax reimbursements to which he was not entitled between September 2017 and the end of December 2018, according to the statement.

As part of the investigation, Mr. Torres allegedly told investigators about those reimbursement checks, “You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“With a career managing a complex payroll benefit system and side job as a tax examiner, this defendant knew perfectly well the difference between a gift horse and a blatant theft from taxpayers,” Inspector General Leahy Scott said in the statement. “This arrest sends a clear message that my office and my law enforcement partners will not tolerate such a clear violation of the public trust.”




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