State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Albany County District Attorney David Soares and the New York State Police today announced the arrest of Alayne Bertolino for allegedly stealing more than $240,000 in New York state pension payments made to her deceased father over a 4 ½-year period.
“The defendant took advantage of her father’s death to profit handsomely at the expense of New York’s retirement system and fuel an extravagant lifestyle,” DiNapoli said. “I thank Albany County District Attorney David Soares and the New York State Police for partnering with my Division of Investigations to bring her to justice. We will seek full restitution and continue to steadfastly guard the pension system from fraud.”
“As not only a law enforcement agency, but as taxpayers, we take issues of fraud very seriously,” said Assistant District Attorney Erin Bates, who is handling the prosecution of this case. “Building trust in public institutions requires us to hold people accountable when they run afoul of the law, and we intend to do just that.”
“I commend our State Police members and partners from the State Comptroller’s Office and the Albany County District Attorney’s Office for their devoted collaborative work on this investigation,” New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said. “Ms. Bertolino knowingly defrauded the New York State pension system by using her deceased father’s pension to satisfy her own selfish greed. The State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who mistakenly think they can get away with these schemes.”
The pensioner, Joseph Bertolino, retired as a detective from the Nassau County Police Department in 1991 and was receiving a pension via direct deposit into a bank account jointly held with his daughter, Alayne Bertolino, now a resident of Georgia. All pension payments were to cease upon his death.
The father died in Georgia on Jan. 24, 2014, at the age of 69. His daughter did not notify the state retirement system of his death. In fact, DiNapoli’s office received a change of address form for the father from the U.S. Postal Service in 2017. Pension payments were stopped when the retirement system became aware of his death.
A total of 56 monthly deposits were made into the jointly held bank account after the date of death, totaling $246,272.32. Over the course of the next 4 ½ half years, the retirement deposits accounted for most of the deposits going into the bank account.
Investigators allege Alayne made numerous transfers from that account into other accounts she held with her husband and children. She used the money to buy a Mercedes and a $556,000, seven-bedroom, five-bathroom home.
Bertolino, 48, was arraigned in Albany City Court before Judge John Reilly, and is due back in court on April 14, 2023.
The charges filed in this case are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
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 https://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 8th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.