An employee for the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) was arrested today on multiple charges of identity theft and grand larceny for using agency-issued gas cards to allegedly steal nearly $8,000 in gas for his personal use, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced today.
"George Thomas posed as his co-workers to steal thousands in fuel, betraying not only his colleagues but the New Yorkers with developmental disabilities he was supposed to be serving," said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "I thank Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez for partnering with my office to bring this individual to justice. We have no tolerance for abuse of the public trust."
"This defendant allegedly used public funds for his personal needs, which comes at a heavy cost to taxpayers over the long term," said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. "I commend Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and his staff for rooting out this alleged theft. We will now seek to hold the defendant accountable."
George Thomas, 33, of Queens faces seven counts each of first, second and third degree identity theft, seven counts of third degree unlawful possession of personal identification, one count of third degree grand larceny and one count of petit larceny. Thomas was arraigned and released on own recognizance. He is due back in court on Aug. 22.
A direct support assistant at OPWDD, Thomas was assigned to the Metro Developmental Disabilities State Operations Office (Metro DDSOO) in Brooklyn since 2014. His responsibilities at OPWDD required him to drive agency vehicles from time to time. Certain employees at the Metro DDSO who drive as part of their duties are provided a personal identification number to use when purchasing fuel for agency vehicles with a New York State credit card. Thomas admitted that in 2015 he obtained his co-workers personal identification numbers and used this information to fill up his own vehicle and his grandmother’s vehicle without her knowledge. He unlawfully purchased $7,978 worth of gas including super-unleaded gas which none of the DDSOO vehicles use. Thomas was able to continue his theft due to poor oversight. Thomas’s crimes were discovered during an audit by State Comptroller DiNapoli’s office.
Comptroller DiNapoli’s investigation was handled by his Division of Investigations working with his Bureau of State Expenditures. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Adam Libove, of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michael Spanakos, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.
Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at [email protected], or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.