Another NB Firefighter Arrested For Bogus Disability Claims

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Another city firefighter was arrested on April 8, according to New Brunswick Fire Department (NBFD) Director Robert Rawls.

Richard Patterson, a 23-year veteran of the NBFD, is accused of "stealing $5,500 in bogus disability insurance claims," according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO).

Patterson, a 45-year-old city resident, faces two counts of insurance fraud, two counts of theft by deception, 14 counts each of forgery and uttering a fraudulent insurance claim form, as well as possession of prescription pills and attempting to defraud a drug test.

Rawls said that Patterson's status was "pending… I haven't been briefed on everything."

Patterson is the second firefighter in six months to be arrested on charges of defrauding the city's taxpayers, and one of three firefighters disciplined in 2015.

"During the investigation it was determined that between August 3, 2010 and October 15, 2015, the firefighter filed false insurance disability claims and forged the signatures of his physician and a superior officer in order to collect a total of $5,500," reads the MCPO press release.

The charges against Patterson are similar to those leveled against firefighter Dell Walker, who was arrested and suspended without pay on November 23, and has not returned to work.

That suspension came three days after the MCPO announced criminal charges against Walker, a 19-year veteran of the department, for collecting disability payments at the same time he was working.

The MCPO accused Walker of "stealing thousands of dollars by filing a phony disability claim while continuing to work for the city and collect a pay check." 

The city's insurance company, Aflac, has been investigating whether or not other city employees are engaged in similar schemes, according to City Council Preident Kevin Egan.

An inside source said that that Patterson likely won't be the last arrest made in this case.  His bail was set at $10,000, but the jail's records department said he was not in the facility.

City Fire Director Robert Rawls confirmed that the longtime city employee was "picked up" on April 8.

"Yes, I dont know if he's arrested or not, but he was picked up," said Rawls who has himself pled guilty to criminal charges in the past, and most recently to careless driving after he crashed into three children in a city vehicle.

Patterson's arrest comes on the heels of the news that another city firefighter, Carmine Luizza, was charged with drinking and driving in New York state.  That arrest, however, has not yet affected his employment status with the NBFD.

As we reported, Luizza and Patterson were two of at least three firefighters disciplined in 2015, along with Walker.

Patterson was suspended from August 8 through November 8 for reasons unknown, according to City Hall.

Luizza had previously been taking time off of work for "mental stress" after being accused of racism in 2015, according to a source.  Luizza forfeited a shift's pay after allegedly using a racial slur twice in one incident.

 

Charlie is a community organizer, a Rutgers journalism graduate, and a 2018 independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.

He can be reached at (732) 993-9697 or [email protected]