State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the indictment of a 53-year-old Texas woman for allegedly stealing more than $65,000 in New York state pension payments meant for a deceased acquaintance. Christy Gibson, of Smith County, Texas, was indicted by Texas prosecutors and charged with one count of theft after an investigation by DiNapoli’s office.
“Christy Gibson went to great lengths to cover up the death of an acquaintance to line her own pockets,” DiNapoli said. “Thanks to the work of my investigators and law enforcement in Texas, she will be held accountable. We will continue to partner with law enforcement from across the country to protect the New York State Retirement System.”
William H. Walsh Jr. retired from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in November 1986. He elected to receive a reduced monthly retirement benefit so his wife, Mary L. Walsh, would continue to receive payments if he died before her. William Walsh died in October 2005. Mary Walsh died in December 2012 and at the time of death the pension payments should have stopped. Instead, her death was never reported to the New York state retirement system.
In May 2013, the retirement system received information indicating that Walsh may have died, and pension payments were halted. In June of that year, the retirement system sought verification that Mary Walsh was still alive and subsequently received notarized verification, purportedly from Mary Walsh. As a result, the pension payments were reinstated.
A later investigation by the State Comptroller’s Office found that Mary Walsh was in fact deceased, and the verification was fraudulent.
In total, 70 pension payments were paid after date of death, amounting to $65,102.28.
The pension payments went into a joint account in the name of Mary Walsh and Gibson that was opened in 2011. Gibson never informed the bank of Walsh’s death or removed Walsh’s name from the account. It appears that Gibson was an acquaintance of Mary Walsh through her sister-in-law and also worked at the nursing home where Walsh eventually lived.
DiNapoli’s investigators determined that Gibson used the joint account to pay for entertainment and food. Gibson also made electronic transfers and cash withdrawals.
Gibson was indicted in the 114th District Court of Smith County Texas on one count of theft. Gibson’s anticipated arraignment will be on August 7 before Judge Austin Reve Jackson.
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.