Lt. Patrick O'Mara, former Buffalo Police Officer facing fraud charges, in 2004.
BUFFALO, NY -- U.S. Attorney William Hochul says another Buffalo Police officer is facing federal health care and mail fraud charges in connection to benefits received while on Injured on Duty status.
WEB EXTRA: Click here to read the criminal complaint
The U.S. Attorney's office says Patrick O'Mara, 50, of Buffalo was placed on Injured on Duty status in 2004. He returned to light duty months later, and then claimed to have injured himself while lifting two reams of copy paper. He was then off of work on injured status until he retired in 2012. But, investigators found he was working as a paid musical director and church organist for most of the time he was on injured status.
According to the complaint, O'Mara's primary doctor suggested he stay off of work, but independent medical exams showed he wasn't permanently disabled. In fact, one doctor said he saw O'Mara walk into the office with a cane, but walk out to the parking lot without the earlier limp.
The complaint also alleges O'Mara told Special Agents that he was capable of performing light duty, and he admitted to his work as an organist. He then apparently said there was no incentive to return to work because "it is demeaning to sit at a desk and answer phones and I consider it to be punishment," continuing on, "the pay on IOD status which is without taxes is actually an incentive to stay off duty."
This is the second arrest in relation to officers taking advantage of the injured on duty status. The first one came last week, when former officer and Common Council member Robert Quintana was charged with the same crimes.
Officials say the investigation is continuing, and Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda told reporters Thursday, "we are looking at several other officers, I won't give you numbers, I won't give you who, but the investigation continues."
Mayor Byron Brown said he asked Derenda to look into the number of officers accepting IOD benefits last year. Officials say the city has been spending millions on the program.
"There are people out there, and they deserve all the medical attention we can give them," said Derenda. "... But the people out there playing games, need to go, and they need to go soon."
"We are not going to stop, we are going to keep going, we are going to keep looking into this, we are going to keep drilling down into this," Brown said.
Derenda said Buffalo Police took over the day-to-day management of the IOD program on July 1st from the city's human resources department. He says there are now weekly meetings and officers are being called in for check-ups.
"We're doing very well," Derenda said. "Getting people back to work, getting officers the treatment the need."
Derenda said at times the city police department had as many as 120 IODs, but since his department took over, that number has dropped to 60, with 17 officers working "light" or office duty.
Both men could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted