NEW YORK (PIX11) — Three Rikers Island correction officers allegedly fraudulently took sick leave for months during a jail staffing crisis, prosecutors said Thursday.
Collectively, Steven Cange, Monica Coaxum and Eduardo Trinidad allegedly fraudulently got more than $380,000 in salary while pretending to be sick, officials said. Cange was on sick leave from March 2021 to the present. Coaxum was on sick leave from March of 2021 to May of 2022. Trinidad, who’s her fiance, was out on sick leave from June of 2021 to November of 2022.
“These correction officers in no way are a reflection of the hard-working women and men who represent New York’s Boldest,” Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina said. “Since day one, I reaffirmed my commitment to hold all staff accountable, especially officers who selfishly abused a privilege and didn’t report to work when their colleagues needed them the most. Their conduct is unacceptable and a violation of their oath and duty to this city and our agency.”
All three officers were arrested Thursday. They each face a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars if they’re convicted.
Cange allegedly claimed he was suffering from vertigo and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the criminal complaint. While out, he allegedly submitted more than 100 fake medical notes to the DOC about trips to physical therapy and other medical providers.
The investigation revealed he was not at those appointments, according to the complaint. Investigators observed Cange doing normal activities without apparent issues.
Coaxum allegedly claimed she was suffering from multiple injuries, according to a separate criminal complaint. She submitted dozens of fake medical notes. Investigators found that she was traveling and at parties during some of the time when she claimed to being injured and at home.
Trinidad allegedly used a sling, cane and boot to go to medical appointments with the DOC. He claimed to be too injured to work, but photographic and video evidence shows he did home bowled, traveled and did home improvement work without any difficulty, according to court documents. He also did those activities without the help from a sling, cane or boot.
“These are obviously extremely serious allegations and if true, do not represent the 99% of our officers who are working excessive amounts of overtime without meals to keep our city safe every day,” Benny Boscio, president of the union representing correction officers said. “COBA does not in any way encourage our members to call out sick without a valid reason and this type of behavior is a gross disservice to their fellow officers.”