05/25/2006

N.Y. cops charged in alleged time-off scam

BY ANN GIVENS AND MICHAEL FRAZIER. STAFF WRITERS
Copyright 2006 Newsday, Inc. 

Two Nassau police officers were arrested yesterday and charged with fudging their time-off records so they could take days off without dipping into their paid leave time.

Thomas Sirianni, 44, and Mary Ingargiola, 40, who prosecutors said were responsible for tracking time off for themselves and others, pleaded not guilty yesterday to third-degree grand larceny, a felony. If convicted, they could serve a maximum of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.

Nassau Assistant District Attorney Peter Mancuso said between January 2004 and last October, Sirianni stole $20,474.05 and Ingargiola stole $9,446.97 by taking time off and not reporting it as vacation time or paid leave. That's a big deal, Mancuso said, because that means the taxpayers were being cheated out of police work hours.

"These are trusted public servants and we expect them to conduct themselves in the highest possible fashion," he said. "They're supposed to be safeguarding us, not stealing from us."

But attorneys for Sirianni and Ingargiola said their clients did nothing wrong.

"Officer Sirianni maintains that his work hours and leave hours were accurately reflected in the books and records of the police department," said Sirianni's lawyer, John Carman of Garden City.

Ingargiola's lawyer, Steven Barnwell of Mineola, said his client was one of many people who had access to the department's record books.

The officers, on the force since 1990, were released without bail. They are suspended from their jobs without pay, a police spokesman said.

In a statement, Police Commissioner James Lawrence said he was disturbed by the arrests.

"I'm troubled that an incident like this will tarnish the good work done by the honest, hardworking members of my department," he said. "The residents of Nassau County have one of the finest police departments in the nation and should understand that we will not tolerate conduct that is inconsistent with the oath and responsibilities of our office." 
 
1) Ingargiola and 2) Sirianni
 
May 25, 2006

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