The Not-So-Curious Case of John Burke

There’s a story in today’s Times Union that should anger every taxpayer in Albany County and across the state. Unfortunately, the story won’t cause the outrage it should – and that’s because it’s become all too common. The case of former Albany County sheriff inspector John F. Burke Jr. is the direct result of a broken workers’ compensation system that leaves New York state taxpayers holding the bag.

Brendan Lyons of the Times Union does a terrific job describing the circumstances of Mr. Burke’s claim. We encourage you to read the full article here. But, we did want to highlight one section:

“The fact that the claimant voluntarily separated from employment does not preclude him from awards, provided he is able to demonstrate reattachment to the labor market,” Loughlin said in a 12-page ruling. “I find that the claimant has demonstrated that he has searched for work since his separation from employment.”

County officials said they were stunned by the decision and will suspend any payments to Burke pending an appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Board.

“I firmly think this is a disgrace and this is what’s wrong with the system,” Sheriff Craig Apple said. “They’re telling us we did everything we needed to do to prove our case, and yet they’re still going to give him $40,000 a year.”

So, what can we do to fix this systemic waste and abuse? The harsh reality is that a legislative fix is just impractical. The state Assembly is not interested in rectifying the problem. Candidly, they don’t even view it as problem. But, The Business Council is working to put real pressure on the Cuomo administration to get this right.

What can you do to help? Contact the Governor’s office, reach out to our in-house workers’ comp expert, Lev Ginsburg (lev.ginsburg@bcnys.org), and send us stories of similar fraud and abuse. The only way we will get the wholesale changes needed to protect New York taxpayers is by making our voices heard.