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August 24, 2010

Honeymooning on "sick" time

After telling their supervisors they were too sick to work, four New York City teachers took honeymoons in Aruba and Italy--while an Albany police employee collected as much as $750 a-day giving speeches across the country.

One newlywed does appear not to be contrite. Robert Nappo and his new wife Cindy, also a teacher, each took five sick days and three unapproved personal days to honeymoon in Aruba in 2008.

A teacher of 32 years, Robert blamed a jealous snitch for busting them. "It's unfair that gutless people who may have it in for you stoop so low to do something this," he told the Daily News.
Nappo and his wife were fined $7,500 each for their island getaway.

They are among 13 teachers and other school employees who either lost their jobs or paid fines for faking illness, according to the reports by Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon. The News reports:

Each busted worker managed to get sick notes from their doctors--but most needed a lesson in how to be discreet.

Fresh tans and Facebook photos tipped off administrators and co-workers to some of the secret jaunts, according to investigators.

In the case of Albany's freelancing gang prevention specialist Ronald "Cook" Barrett, his nearly 325 appearances at out-of-town conferences, seminars and events since 2004 apparently raised no red flags with his police department supervisors--even though he took sick time to attend some of them.

Instead, a four-month investigation by the Albany Times Union exposed Barrett taking full or partial sick days 47 times in a two-and-a-half year period.

This year alone, Barrett has visited the Bronx, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Canada.
In 2008, Barrett was paid a total of $1,500 to speak at two separate events in West Virginia, the money coming from federal grants. He was paid a total of $2,850 by the Schenectady school system for four appearances, while also collecting sick pay or full pay for some of the time.

After the Times Union questioned city officials about Barrett's work history, Mayor Jerry Jennings said an independent counsel will examine the case. In the meantime, Barrett is on paid administrative leave.

No word on whether he can continue to pocket $750 speaking fees while on paid leave.

Posted by Lise Bang-Jensen

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