Yesterday it was announced that former Buffalo, NY police officer Patrick S. O'Mara, 52, pleaded guilty to wire fraud before Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge, related to claims made regarding a workers’ compensation case, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
Meanwhile, comments he allegedly made to investigators in the process are wholly indicative of the problems we face with entitlement mentality in this nation. We could learn from this man.
O’Mara was placed on Injured on Duty status (IOD) by the city of Buffalo on February 16, 2004. His IOD status was for exacerbation of cervical and lumbar strains previously suffered while on duty. 8 months later he was ordered to return to light duty, where he again claimed to injure himself, this time hurting his right arm lifting two reams of copy paper. He was once again placed on IOD status in 2005, where he remained until he retired in 2012.
During the investigation, officials learned that one of the doctors treating O’Mara saw him walk into the office using a cane, but later observed him in the parking lot walking normally, without a limp. He must have forgotten about the usefulness of windows, even though that is something he should have been familiar with, as they are often helpful in police work. Other IME’s determined he was not permanently disabled, and investigators also discovered he was working as a paid musical director and church organist during most, if not all, of the time that he has been on IOD status.
Turns out it is quite difficult to play the organ and direct a choir with one hand. Either that or his church sang a lot of hymns to the tune of “Chopsticks”.
It was his comments to investigators that really struck me as indicative of our greater societal failures. While talking to special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he stated that he was capable of performing light duty. He told them he had been playing the organ for a church. He also told them he saw no incentive to return to work on light duty status because “it is demeaning to sit at a desk and answer phones, and I consider it to be punishment.”
Hmmm. Demeaning to sit at a desk and answer phones. Right. There is so much more dignity in sitting at home and letting the system mail you a check when you could have been contributing something.
He also offered this telling tidbit; he told the FBI guys that “the pay on IOD status, which is without taxes, is actually an incentive to stay off-duty in IOD status.”
Well, there is an honest glimpse of the disability mindset in action. Probably too honest, and not very bright when you consider he was talking to a couple people from the FBI. The tax free money makes it easier to stay at home, where we store our ample supplies of dignity.
O'Mara is scheduled to be sentenced on July 30, 2014. As indicated, he could end up getting up to 20 years for his felony crime. I'll bet that light duty desk is looking pretty good about now….