Former Bar Association president admits to pension 'double-dipping'

Sean Lahman

Democrat & Chronicle

Apr 5, 2018

A former president of the Monroe County Bar Association admitted Wednesday to unlawfully "double-dipping" and receiving state retirement benefits to which she was not entitled.

Diane Cecero, 64, of Pittsford was charged with wire fraud by federal authorities, who allege that she illegally drew pension benefits after leaving her position as an assistant attorney general in 1996.

Cecero left her role in the New York State Attorney General’s Rochester office to become a labor attorney at Monroe Community College. She eventually became MCC's general counsel, remaining there until August 2015.

She also served as the president of the Monroe County Bar Association from 2013 to 2014.

Authorities alleged that between 2008 and 2014, Cecero was receiving both a state pension and a state salary. The practice of drawing retirement benefits while remaining a public employee is prohibited under state law with few exceptions, none of which applied to Cecero, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office

Federal prosecutors also alleged that while she was improperly receiving benefits from the state's retirement system, Cecero enrolled in a second public pension plan for SUNY employees. Her then-employer MCC contributed more than $100,000 for her benefit.

As part of a pretrial diversion agreement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charge if, within 18 months, Cecero paid total restitution of $156,918.20. She did not admit to committing fraud nor to any criminal conduct.

The case was investigated by the Office of the State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Barnett and Cyrus P.W. Rieck.