BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A former Buffalo Police lieutenant has admitted he failed to return to work and defrauded the police department out of “Injured on Duty” pay.
In February 2004, Patrick O’Mara claimed he had strained his back while on duty and was placed on “Injured on Duty” (IOD) status, where he remained until October when he was ordered to return to work on light duty. Five months later, the 53-year-old divorced father of two who lives in Kenmore claimed he injured his right hand while lifting two reams of copy paper.
FBI agents, suspecting O’Mara was exaggerating his injury, put him under surveillance, and the lieutenant was seen going about his normal activities, one of which included playing an organ at his church. During a 2012 interview where FBI investigators confronted O’Mara about his injury, O’Mara told agents that he was capable of performing light duty, but had no incentive to return to work.
He is quoted as saying, “It is demeaning to sit at a desk and answer phones and I consider it to be punishment” and “the pay on IOD status, which is without taxe,s is actually an incentive to stay off duty in IOD status.”
On Monday, O’Mara pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud. Though the charge could carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, sentencing guidelines in this case could mean the former lieutenant spends up to 18 months in prison.
O’Mara’s attorney Joseph Latona said, “He had a number of injuries for a variety of reasons and basically what the admission was is that upon being certified by a physician he could return to work, he did not. As a result he received money and improperly so. He admitted his responsibility.”
The former cop, who spent more than 20 years on the force before retiring in 2012, may owe more than $107,000 in restitution, but his attorney claims the amount is a little over $40,000. That matter remains in arbitration. Under a forfeiture agreement, the government could sell two Buffalo rental properties O’Mara owns for restitution.
He will be sentenced July 30, 2014.
O’Mara’s is one of two Buffalo Police officers charged with defrauding the IOD program. On May 9, 2012, Robert Quintana, who has been on IOD status since March of 2005, was arrested and also charged with mail and health care fraud.