Say what you will about all of his legal problems, but no one can call Nicholas Maffei/Nicholas Pasquale lazy.
Maffei is a 61-year-old Brewster, N.Y., resident who was a bartender at Emily Shaw’s Restaurant in Pound Ridge, N.Y., until an on-the-job injury in 1986. He also is a 61-year-old Brewster, N.Y., man who — from 1996 to 2007 — was at various times a bartender at Arturo’s Restaurant in Yorktown, N.Y., Colonial Terrace in Cortlandt, N.Y., and Long Ridge Tavern in Stamford, Conn., a flagger for Verizon, and an applicant for a hack license with the Westchester County Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The energetic Maffei is moving through the court system after being charged with a Class E felony for workers’ compensation fraud following a joint investigation by the Westchester County (N.Y.) District Attorney’s Office; the N.Y. State Workers’ Compensation Board’s Office of the Inspector General; the State Insurance Fund, Division of Confidential Investigations; and the U.S. Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General.
It is a tale that spans almost three decades. In 1969, Maffei applied for and received a second Social Security Number under the pseudonym Nicholas Pasquale for reasons that are still unclear.
In 1986, while working under his real name, Maffei filed a workers’ compensation claim while bartending at Emily Shaw’s Restaurant. He said he sustained the injury after picking up an ice bucket. Despite that filing, he continued to work for another nine years, until 1995, when he filed a claim for indemnity benefits for the injury.
Since then, he has been paid partial disability benefits totaling almost $80,000. He also has filed several work activity reports affirming that he had not been engaged in any kind of work. In keeping with his “no-job” claim, his tax returns as Maffei show he did not report any income from 2003 to 2006.
At the time he started his action for workers’ compensation indemnity benefits, he also obtained a New York State driver’s license under the pseudonym. Since 1996, he has been working at his other jobs under his pseudonym, while collecting indemnity and Social Security disability benefits under the name Maffei.
Maffei has now been charged with one count of fraudulent practice under New York’s workers’ compensation law, a felony. If convicted, he faces four years in prison. Bail was set at $10,000.
New York has many eyes watching for workers’ compensation fraud. According to Bob Lawson of the public information office at the NYSIF in Albany, there are three state agencies authorized to make these types of arrests: the NYSIF, the Workers’ Compensation Board, and the New York State Insurance Department. The Insurance Department also targets insurance fraud in other coverages such as auto and health.
“There is good interagency cooperation,” he noted. “That, along with the cooperation of local prosecutors, is essential to the success of this effort. We are always trying to build up that cooperation.”
NYSIF CEO/Executive Director David P. Wehner said the case was indicative of the joint effort among various agencies and law enforcement authorities working together to crackdown on workers’ compensation fraud in the state.
“This case shows the professional inter-agency cooperation underway to halt workers’ compensation fraud in New York that, since workers’ compensation reforms in 2007, has led to a steadily increasing number of successful arrests and prosecutions,” CEO Wehner said.
“[The NYSIF] are the state fund,” Lawson said. “We are a competitive fund, with about 37 percent of the workers’ compensation market, both residual and voluntary. In 2007, our agency made 158 arrests for workers’ compensation fraud.”
Lawson reported that the 158 arrests represent about $17 million in savings. “That total includes both claimant fraud and policyholder fraud,” he said. “We’ve seen considerably more policyholder fraud arrests lately. There has been much more interest in and concentration on misclassification of employees.”
Lawson said the effort was considerably “beefed up” in 1996 with the creation of the Division of Confidential Investigations. “The division has 18 fraud investigators and supervisors, and we have made more than 1,000 arrests since 1996,” he revealed.