Social Security Administration Security Guard Pleads Guilty To Creating A False Incident Report Omitting The Fact That The Guard Repeatedly Punched A Visitor
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that EDWIN CABAN, a former Protective Security Officer, pleaded guilty yesterday to creating a false incident report in which CABAN intentionally omitted the fact that CABAN had repeatedly punched a member of the public at a branch of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), despite knowing that this omission was unlawful. CABAN pled guilty to a Superseding Indictment before U.S. District Court Judge Lorna G. Schofield, who will impose sentencing.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Protective Security Officers are charged with protecting those who enter federal facilities. But, as he admitted in court, Protective Security Officer Edwin Caban repeatedly punched a visitor and then filed a false incident report omitting that fact. Caban betrayed the public trust and violated the law.”
According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment, to which CABAN pled guilty today as to Count Two, and the related Complaint in which he was originally charged on April 24, 2017:
The SSA has multiple branch offices located throughout New York City, where claimants may request SSA services and make inquiries regarding social security benefits and Social Security cards. One branch office is located at 123 William Street (the “123 William Office”), in Manhattan. The 123 William Office is staffed by two Protective Security Officers, who are employees of a contractor for the Federal Protective Service of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The 123 William Office has several surveillance cameras, which captured the incident.
At approximately 12:37 p.m. on June 22, 2016, the victim (“Victim-1”) entered the 123 William Office, wheeling an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair into the reception area. CABAN attempted to move the wheelchair, which Victim-1 asked him not to do. After CABAN stepped away, Victim-1 withdrew a cellphone from his pocket. CABAN then walked back to Victim-1 and repeatedly accused him of taking a picture with his cellphone, which Victim-1 denied.
As recorded by security camera footage obtained from the SSA, CABAN at this point reached out toward Victim-1, and Victim-1 put both of his hands up in the air, with his palms facing CABAN. CABAN then took hold of Victim-1’s waist with both hands, pivoted, turned Victim-1 around, and then pushed Victim-1 backward toward the elevator bank. CABAN continued to push Victim-1 backward, toward a desk adjacent to the opening to the elevator bank, until Victim-1 fell backward over the desk. CABAN then took hold of Victim-1’s arms, and, as Victim-1 struggled to shake free of CABAN’s hold, CABAN took Victim-1 into the elevator bank.
After a brief struggle in the elevator bank, CABAN pushed Victim-1 up against a wall. Placing his left hand at the base of Victim-1’s throat, CABAN pinned Victim-1 against the wall. As Victim-1 stood there, not moving, with his hands up in the air in a gesture of surrender, CABAN punched Victim-1 four times in the chest and ribs. Victim-1 collapsed forward, and CABAN continued to hold on to Victim-1 as Victim-1 remained bent forward, clutching his abdomen.
At this point, CABAN’s partner, another protective security officer (“PSO-1”), arrived in the elevator bank from a back area of the office and approached CABAN and Victim-1. CABAN let go of Victim-1, who remained against the wall, not moving. As PSO-1 stood a few feet away, CABAN punched Victim-1 again in the chest. After several minutes passed, CABAN and PSO-1 escorted Victim-1 out of the elevator bank and back into the main floor area, back toward where the man in the wheelchair was waiting.
As a result of the attack, Victim-1 suffered bodily injuries, including fractured ribs, bruising, and physical pain.
Shortly after the incident, Victim-1 called 911 and two New York City Police Department officers responded. One of these officers (“Officer-1”) entered the 123 William Office and spoke with CABAN about Victim-1’s allegations. CABAN stated to Officer-1 that he put his hands on Victim-1 to remove him from the office, at which point Victim-1 “flopped” onto the desk, knocking things over. CABAN denied touching Victim-1 after that point and denied entering the elevator bank during the incident.
That same afternoon, CABAN placed a telephone call to an FPS reporting center, in which CABAN made an oral report about the incident. CABAN stated that there was “a disruptive client in here that needed to be escorted out;” he did not disclose that he struck Victim-1.
CABAN wrote and submitted a Security Incident Report. In that report, CABAN stated that, as he “attempted to guide [Victim-1] out” of the office, Victim-1 “yelled and jumped onto the security desk flairing [sic] arms and legs knocking equipment around.” CABAN then stated that he placed Victim-1 in an “arm bar” and “took him by the elevator banks,” that Victim-1 “tried to break [his] hold” at which point CABAN “grabbed him under his chin” and “mainta[ined] a hold of his arm.” CABAN stated that PSO-1 then arrived. CABAN reported no other use of force against Victim-1. In particular, nowhere in the report did CABAN state that he struck Victim-1.
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CABAN, 56, of Astoria, New York, pled guilty to one count of filing a false form, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the FPS.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Units. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison Moe and Jacob Lillywhite are in charge of the prosecution.