Wed May 9, 2012
Feds arrest former Buffalo councilman for alleged health care fraud
A former Common Council member who is also employed as a Buffalo Police officer is facing federal charges for allegedly abusing sick leave at his job.
Police say Robert Quintana, 50, was arrested this morning and charged with mail fraud and healthcare fraud. Quintana has been listed as 'injured on duty' since 2005 and has been receiving full pay and benefits. He had told the Police Department he had severe back injuries from a fall on duty.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says since then, Quintana has been directly observed working at Niagara Cafe, a popular west side restaurant which he managed, on at least 11 separate occasions.
"Some of the duties that these undercover officers observed included cleaning tables [and] carrying boxes of food and drinks. In effect, managing this business and, in fact, getting paid for his work," said U.S. Attorney William Hochul.
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda says the Quintana case turned up in a probe of injured officers. He says he brought the FBI in to help with the investigation.
Quintana became the first Hispanic member of the Common Council when he was elected to represent the Niagara District in 1995. Current Niagara District Councilman David Rivera, a retired Buffalo Police officer, says he has known Quintana for years, but he says he didn't know anything about the case.
Hochul says Quintana paid no state or federal income tax on $561,000 in police salary. He has been suspended without pay from the department.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Quintana entered a plea of not guilty on all charges. If convicted, Quintana faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000.