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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Friday, April 29, 2016

Former Newburgh City Fire Chief Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud For Fraudulently Obtaining Retirement Benefits

Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MICHAEL J. VATTER pled guilty today to wire fraud in connection with state pension benefits before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in White Plains federal court.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Michael Vatter, the former Newburgh City Fire Chief, cheated the public he swore to serve by double-dipping, receiving both a public pension and a paycheck at the same time.  Today, he admitted to his fraud, and he will be held accountable for his corruption.”

According to the Indictment:

VATTER served in the Newburgh City Fire Department in various capacities from in or about 1980 until his retirement in May 2000.  Following his retirement, VATTER attended law school and practiced law.  In November 2009, the Indictment charges, VATTER returned to the Newburgh Fire Department as its Chief.  The Indictment further alleges that VATTER failed to report his return to the public sector New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System despite knowing he had a duty under state law to do so.  As a result, VATTER received more than $95,000 in pension benefits that he was not entitled to receive. 

Under New York State law, a public sector retiree who is receiving a pension and who returns to public service cannot receive both pension payments and a public sector paycheck.  The law permits public sector retirees to earn up to $30,000 per year from public sector employment before their pension benefits are cut off for that year.

VATTER, 57, of Walkill, New York, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the New York State Comptroller, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.  

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney James McMahon is in charge of the prosecution.



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Updated April 29, 2016