LIVINGSTON COUNTY — According to New York State Police statements made at a press conference Monday afternoon in Geneseo, the investigation into alleged time card fraud in the Livingston County Jail was completed without taking any statements whatsoever from either County Officials or from jail administrators who were in office at the time.
The press conference was called by District Attorney Greg McCaffrey, who explained the specifics of the 17 month investigation, including who was investigated, who was charged, and what the anticipated consequences will be for those accused.
McCaffrey acknowledged that many people in Livingston County are still dissatisfied. “I realize that there are many who are disappointed that no previous Jail administration has been given criminal charges,” said McCaffrey. “However, there are no applicable charges for previous Jail administration.”
A spokesperson for the State Police said that they interviewed retired Sheriff John York and retired Undersheriff Jim Szezniak as part of the investigation. York was Sheriff for the entire period when the fraud allegedly took place, and Szezniak was in office for much of that time.
McCaffrey asserted that the chief difficulty in the investigation stems from a difference between legal shift swapping and “pay for work” practices, which are illegal. According to McCaffrey, asking another employee to work an 8-hour shift on a Tuesday in exchange for working an 8-hour shift on Thursday is perfectly legal, but paying them to do so is a crime.
The problem, McCaffrey said, is that the “pay for work” practices, which are the subject of the investigation, leave no paper trail, at least in the evidence recorded on the jail time card machines. The machines only record whose card was punched at what time, not whether any money changes hands beforehand or afterwards.
Given the lack of a paper trail, McCaffrey said that the investigation was ultimately stymied by the “non-compliance” of the deputies under investigation. The State Police spokesperson added that when they interviewed jail employees no deputies consented to questioning. The spokesperson also suggested, however, that the deputies claimed to be unaware that their paid shift swapping was a criminal offense.
When asked whether he was avoiding prosecuting jail personnel or county administration officials, an obviously stressed McCaffrey said, “I didn’t want to prosecute anyone. But no reported crime in Livingston County will go unprosecuted.”
Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty, commenting towards the end of the press conference, tried to strike a conciliatory tone. “Let’s face it, this whole situation is tough on the community,” Dougherty said. “It’s a small community, and people care about each other. I’ve known some of these guys for 20-plus years.”
Eight former deputies were arraigned in court Friday morning. The ninth resigned several weeks ahead of the others, and moved to Ohio. Of the eight arraigned, all but one were given a one-year conditional discharge and a $125 court surcharge.
According to McCaffrey, the charges against those eight did not warrant and merit a criminal record. He added that Andrew Eichorn, the only former deputy whose charges are severe enough that a jail sentence would be possible, is not going to face jail time.
Much of the day’s questioning from reporters focused on whether the anticipated sentences are proportional to the crimes that were committed, and whether those accused really represent all who were involved with time card fraud. McCaffrey said that some of the accused filed up to 12 hours of work a day, including 4 hours overtime, without ever setting foot in the facility.
“I absolutely believe that other Jail employees were paying [for work,]” said McCaffrey. “Shift swapping was rampant in that jail, and the administration knew about it.”