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Second Buffalo cop faces fraud charges while injured on duty

Mike Desmond/WBFO

A second Buffalo police officer who is listed as injured on duty has been arrested and charged with mail fraud and health care fraud.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul announced that 50-year-old Patrick O'Mara was put on the injured on duty list in February 2004. After two periods on light duty assignments, O'Mara was back on the IOD list from September 2005 until his retirement on March 31 of this year.

Independent medical examinations indicated O'Mara was not disabled, and he was seen walking without a limp when out of the office. 

O'Mara is also a church organist at St. Mark Church in North Buffalo, requiring the use of his right arm, which he claimed was injured when lifting copy paper during light duty in 2005.

During an administrative hearing, O'Mara was described as saying there was no incentive to return to light duty status, and that he considered desk work to be demeaning and a punishment.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda says 23 officers long off-duty with injuries have retired in recent months. He says not all are under suspicion, but some are.

"I believe some retired because of rumors of an investigation and I believe some of those people may be on my list," Derenda said.

"We will keep working and you may see some more arrests in the very near future. People that defraud the citizens, that basically defraud the police department, they're a disgrace to the police department [and] to every hard working officer that puts their life on the line each and every day," Derenda added.

O'Mara's arrest is the second in a week involving a Buffalo Police Officer.  On May 9, Robert Quintana, who has been on IOD status since March of 2005,  was arrested and also charged with mail and health care fraud.

"By prosecuting those who defraud the Injured on Duty System, we protect and support the hard working police officers who may someday need this program for bona fide injuries suffered in the line of fire," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "Abuse of the program not only compromises the integrity of the entire system, it also deprives City residents of one additional police officer who would otherwise be available for patrol and safety. This arrest, the second involving a Buffalo Police Officer in a week, sends a strong and clear message that this type of fraudulent behavior will not be tolerated.”

"As we stated after last week's arrest of Buffalo Police Officer Robert Quintana, the charging of retired Police Officer Patrick O'Mara today reinforces the FBI and Buffalo Police Department's commitment to remove abusers of the Injured-On-Duty program from the ranks of the police department," said Christopher M. Piehota, FBI Special Agent in Charge. "Members of law enforcement must discharge their duties with the utmost respect for ethics and the law. Continued abuse of this worthwhile program drains city resources and undermines the public's trust and confidence in its public servants."

O'Mara told FBI agents it was demeaning to return to light duty and he makes more money as an injured officer because he doesn't pay income taxes.  O'Mara is due before U.S. Magistrate Hugh Scott Friday morning to face federal fraud charges which could send him to prison for up to 20-years.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.
Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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