A respected Rockland firefighter has been charged with fraudulently collecting more than $100,000 in Workers Compensation and Medicaid payments while employed.
Raphael Ziegler, 41, the Monsey Fire Department president and a former New Hempstead fire inspector, filed for and accepted the monies while out on disability and working outside jobs and running a side taxi business, said state Inspector General Leahy Scott on Thursday in a joint news release with acting Rockland District Attorney Kevin Gilleece.
Ziegler, of Monsey, who is currently employed as a Fire Protection Specialist with the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, was arrested and charged Thursday with grand larceny, insurance fraud, two counts of falsifying business records and two counts of workers compensation crimes of failure to secure compensation and fraudulent practices, all felonies, the release said.
An investigation by Scott found that Ziegler, while previously employed at the State’s Rockland Psychiatric Center as a safety and security officer, suffered a work-related injury there on March 20, 2016.
For that reported injury, Ziegler went out on Workers’ Compensation leave though late June, and then again from mid-July through mid-December 2016. During each of those absences, Ziegler attended several Workers’ Compensation medical examinations, each time asserting he was not working in any capacity while out on leave collecting benefits.
The investigation, however, determined Ziegler held several jobs while out on leave from his State job, including a part-time position as Village of New Hempstead code enforcement officer, as a hazmat instructor for the Rockland County Emergency Services, and running and driving for his taxi business, Emunah Transportation, the release said.
During his leave, Ziegler also responded to 44 emergency calls as a member of the Monsey Fire Department. In total, the charges allege Ziegler received more than $24,000 in Workers’ Compensation benefit payments to which he was not entitled.
Additionally, Ziegler owned the Emunah Transportation taxi company throughout this period and began accepting Medicaid payments for medical transportation rides the day he first went out on his disability leave in 2016.
From then through the summer of 2018, Ziegler’s taxi company employed between 14 and 22 people but never provided any of them with Workers’ Compensation coverage, the investigation found.
During that period, Ziegler received $77,325 in Medicaid payments to which he was not entitled, the release says.
Ziegler was released on his own recognizance pending his reappearance in court on March 28.
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