Five Upstate New York Plumbers Plead Guilty in Benefit Scam

Stealing was a group effort at United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 773. So was pleading guilty. On November 5, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York announced that five members of the Glens Falls, N.Y.-based union had pleaded guilty over the course of July 30 through November 5 of this year to defrauding the union health plan out of a combined sum of more than $65,000. The defendants – Christopher Roberts, Earl Graham, Jamie Ruggiero, Shawn Martindale and Torey Gannon – each had received reimbursements under false pretenses. As part of the agreement, they agreed to pay restitution. The pleas follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, the defendants submitted fake receipts for reimbursements of nonexistent medical expenses. Their respective hauls were: Roberts ($11,500); Graham ($14,052.72); Ruggiero ($15,721.70); Martindale ($3,748.89); and Gannon ($22,505). That added up to $67,528.31. “These defendants stole thousands of dollars from their union and, ultimately, from their fellow union members, who depend on the health fund to pay their medical expenses,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon. “We will continue to pursue greedy people who steal from benefit programs and enrich themselves at the expense of others.”