A former U.S. Postal Service employee admitted Tuesday that she fraudulently collected more than $50,000 in disability benefits by falsely claiming she had been injured on the job, officials said.
Zdena Hock, 65, of Mineola, pleaded guilty in federal court in Central Islip to a single count of theft of government services, admitting the outlines of her scheme before U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco, officials said. She faces up to a year in prison and restitution of $51,000 when she is sentenced.
Hock's attorneys could not be reached for comment. Eastern District prosecutor Michael Canty declined to comment.
In court papers, Canty said that in January 2012 Hock filed for disability, claiming that she was "incapable of working for the Postal Service" because she had seriously injured her back and neck while filing paperwork. Hock worked as a secretary at the Mid Island Processing and Distribution Center in Melville.
Hock, in a follow-up interview, said she could take part in "almost no activity" because her pain ranged from "strong to severe."
In medical exams Hock underwent every four to six weeks after filing her claim, she continued to say she was still suffering, the court papers said.
But a federal agent in court papers said that in the summer of 2012 she saw Hock swimming in a neighborhood pool three times a week, "including jumping into the pool, swimming laps, walking up stairs without assistance . . . " At other times, Hock was seen carrying groceries for more than a quarter-of-a-mile and she "never exhibited any signs of injury to her back and neck," while under surveillance, the papers said.
The investigation into Hock started after postal officials complained that they suspected Hock was engaging in fraud because she did not report the injuries until six days after they supposedly happened, the papers said.