A New York City government official has been charged with pocketing $171,000 in fake overtime pay while he was actually on vacation in Aruba.
James Internicola, 56, has worked as an officer with the Department of Correction since January 1996 – and currently has primary responsibility for all recycling operations at Rikers Island.
In 2019, he began working at a warehouse on Rikers Island, which manages supplies for the prison, as well as the facilities’ waste and recycling.
But the Staten Island resident has now been charged with federal program fraud for allegedly logging more than $170,000 in bogus overtime.
James Internicola, 56, has worked as an officer with the Department of Correction since January 1996 – and currently has primary responsibility for all recycling operations at Rikers Island. He was released on a $150,000 bond pending his next court appearance
According to the federal complaint, the employee logged 2,250 hours over an 18-month period — while actually vacationing in Aruba and the Jersey Shore.
Often, Internicola didn’t even show up for work at all – and when he did, he left early so that license plate and cell phone records would be visible.
Internicola logged more overtime hours than any other city employee in the year ending June 2022, which amounted to an average of 16 hours per day, every day.
By his estimates, he worked 111 hours a week.
He took home $390,000, despite his salary being $92,000 a year.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that Internicola was arrested and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcia M. Henry.
He was also suspended from his position.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement: “As alleged, the defendant defrauded the people of New York City and the New York City Department of Correction by claiming to spend significant amounts of time to work, including overtime. , that it didn’t really work.
‘Instead of at work, the suspect was often at home or even on holiday.
“Corrections officers who steal taxpayer dollars by fraudulently obtaining compensation should take note of today’s arrest and know that this office is working with our law enforcement partners to root out corruption on Rikers Island.”
“Internicola’s alleged crime taints every law enforcement officer who takes an oath to uphold the law,” said FBI Assistant Director Smith.
The federal complaint says the employee logged 2,250 hours over an 18-month period — while actually vacationing in Aruba and the Jersey Shore. In the photo: Rikers Island
“The FBI has a zero-tolerance policy for individuals who commit fraud and steal from law-abiding taxpayers.”
DOI Commissioner Strauber said, “This corrections officer, as charged, stole over $171,000 from the City by falsely claiming he was working at Rikers Island, including overtime, when in fact he was vacationing in Aruba and the Jersey Shore, or at home on Staten Island.
“His false time sheets reportedly show 2,250 hours of non-work, a staggering figure.
“I thank the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York for its commitment to protecting the City’s resources – including salaries paid to City workers – from theft and misuse.”
The New York City Department of Correction said, “This alleged conduct is despicable and undermines the public’s trust in our workforce.
“New Yorkers can rest assured that our agency will relentlessly pursue employees who steal from hardworking taxpayers.
The New York City government official faced federal charges for allegedly pocketing $171,000 in fake overtime pay while he was actually on vacation in Aruba
We will work with our law enforcement partners to prosecute these individuals to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the complaint, Internicola fraudulently received more than $171,000 in salary and overtime by lying about the hours he worked from at least July 2021 to January 2023.
Based on license plate reader data, EZ Pass toll data and cell site location information, Internicola often arrived at work more than two hours late and left work several hours early, claim prosecutors.
If convicted, the suspect faces a prison sentence of ten years.
He was released on a $150,000 bond pending his next court appearance.