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Investigation: Teacher’s pension checks cut long after her death

The city’s teacher pension system is being taxed by more than just unrealistic expectations. It has also handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars to a retiree who died in 2000.

That’s the conclusion of a report issued today by the Special Commissioner of Investigation, which is charged with looking into allegations of fraud and malfeasance in the school system.

Last year, the state’s Teachers Retirement System tipped off city investigators that checks issued to Maria Sicardo, a Bronx teacher who retired in 1993, were being cashed by someone else. Investigators discovered that not only had Victor Rosa begun cashing Sicardo’s checks after her death in April 2000 but that he had repeatedly submitted paperwork to the state and teachers union certifying that she was still alive. Employees at a check-cashing company in the Bronx told investigators that after they challenged Rosa, he took the checks elsewhere.

In total, Rosa pocketed about $241,000 over a decade from the state and from the UFT’s Welfare Fund, the union’s health fund for current and retired teachers. SCI is recommending that the pension system move to recoup the funds and has referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s office.