Rikers Island correction officer busted for $171K in salary and overtime fraud clocked in to work while on vacations: feds

Rikers Island jail
Rikers Island
File photo/Dean Moses

He allegedly faked it to make it.

A Rikers Island correction officer who allegedly filed fake timesheets, claiming to be on the job even while he was on vacation in Aruba and the Jersey Shore, has been busted for fraud, federal authorities announced Wednesday.

James Internicola, 56, of Staten Island, allegedly logged 2,250 hours of bogus work time, to the tune of $171,000, while assigned to a warehouse at Rikers Island from July 2021 to January 2023, federal prosecutors said. He was arrested on the morning of Oct. 4 and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

According to the criminal complaint, Internicola claimed to work a significant amount of overtime each week over an 18-month period. However, based on license plate reader data, E-Z pass toll records and cell site location information he was faking his hours, authorities said.

Your tax dollars not at work

Internicola, who was in charge of the jail’s recycling program, allegedly showed up to work more than two hours late most days and left work several hours early. In many instances, he never showed up for his Rikers Island job at all.  

In total, Internicola received more than $390,000 in total compensation between July 2021 and January 2023, with his base salary being $92,000 per year, according to court records.

“As alleged, the defendant defrauded the people of New York City and the New York City Department of Correction by claiming to work significant amounts of hours, including overtime, that he did not actually work,” said Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement. “Instead of being at work, the defendant was often at home or even on vacation.”

Internicola started working for the DOC in 1996 and began his job in the warehouse in 2019. Given his position, authorities said that it was a job that could not be done remotely.

Prosecutors said that he resigned from the DOC last month.

“Internicola’s alleged crime taints every law enforcement officer who takes an oath to uphold the law,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge James Smith in a statement. “The FBI maintains a zero-tolerance policy for individuals who commit fraud and steal from law abiding taxpayers.”