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Rikers Island Sick-Leave Fraud Probers Are Under Investigation

Two New York City investigators responsible for rooting out sick-leave fraud and other corruption at the Rikers Island jail complex are themselves under investigation over whether they abused sick time, the Department of Investigation said. They and several other investigators, according to a New York Times review of personnel records it obtained, have taken so many sick days that they could have been classified by the city as “chronic sick” — a designation that can bring increased scrutiny, the Times reports. One investigators repeatedly called in sick while traveling out of state. Among the others, three took more than 15 sick days last year — most on Mondays or Fridays or around holidays.

None of the investigators, who worked for a unit that conducted surveillance and home visits of jail officers suspected of lying about being ill, has been disciplined for sick-leave abuse. After being presented with the Times’s review, the Department of Investigation placed one under investigation for potential sick-leave abuse and disclosed that a second was already under investigation. The unit, known as Squad 1, focuses on misconduct inside one of the most notoriously troubled jail systems. Most of its investigators are Correction Department captains and officers temporarily assigned to the Department of Investigation, the city’s chief integrity watchdog. Their conduct has the potential to affect cases that they worked on. Last year, three correction officers assigned to Rikers Island were charged with sick-leave fraud in Brooklyn federal court in part as a result of an investigation by the unit, though there is no indication that the two Squad 1 investigators now under scrutiny did any substantive work on the case. Correction Commissioner Louis Molina said that abuses of sick time, including by staff assigned to the city’s investigative agency, would not be tolerated.

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