Niece stole $121,000 by collecting dead man’s New York state pension

A Florida woman was sentenced to state prison Friday after admitting earlier this year to stealing $121,773 in pension benefits that were issued to her uncle, who died almost 30 years ago, state officials said.

Graycelia Cizik, 64, a resident of Polk County, received a two- to six-year prison term from Supreme Court Judge Roger D. McDonough in Albany County Court, according to a statement from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Cizik pleaded guilty on Jan. 21 to a one-count indictment charging her with second-degree grand larceny, a felony. In Friday’s sentencing she also agreed to a judgment in favor of the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System for the $121,773 amount.

Under a plea agreement, Cizik admitted to stealing the pension benefit money issued by the state Comptroller’s Office on behalf of the state and Local Employees Retirement System, to her deceased uncle, David Wynn.

Wynn was a state pensioner who had retired from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He died in 1988.

The agencies, working together, discovered that Cizik witnessed a cremation authorization form for Wynn when he died, but failed to notify the retirement system of his death. Instead, she submitted false information to Wynn’s bank indicating that he was still alive, and used a power of attorney to access his account and withdraw pension benefits paid on his behalf over 12 years — from June 30, 1997, to Oct. 30, 2009, officials said.

Cizik was arrested in August 2014 by agents of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, and extradited to Albany County to face the indictment.

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