2006-06-02 / Front Page

Cro$$ing Guard 'Double Dipped' The City

By Brian Magoolaghan

An NYPD crossing guard assigned to a school in Far Rockaway was arrested last month along with nine others who were allegedly collecting unemployment checks while working as seasonal city employees, according to city investigators.

Lillian Gates, 44, allegedly collected more than $10,500 in unemployment benefits even though she was working as a crossing guard assigned to the NYPD's 101 Precinct, according to Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn. Gates and nine other defendants are accused of scamming the city out of more than $63,000.

Among those charged, Gates wins the dubious distinction of being the second-highest "double dipper." The others arrested in the scheme worked for the Department of Transportation, NYPD and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Several city agencies employ seasonal workers who are entitled to unemployment benefits when they are not working during the off-season, according to DOI. But as soon as their seasonal employment starts up again, they are supposed to discontinue receiving the benefits.

The arrests came after a routine probe by DOI.

"This same scheme has been perpetrated year after year by some seasonal employees," said Gill Hearn. Investigators have busted 100 people for the same scheme since 1999. "Clearly this is a perennial problem and people do not think they will get caught. But this is a foolish way for people to ruin their record and compromise their opportunities for future employment.

"DOI is checking on this each year so the chances of getting caught are quite real," Gill Hearn warned.

The city will seek full restitution from Gates, and she faces up to seven years in jail.

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