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Postal service secretary faces disability fraud charge

A U.S. Postal Service secretary on Long Island who claimed she was so injured on the job filing paperwork that she could no longer carry out routine tasks or walk easily was arrested Monday on charges she fraudulently collected more than $50,000 in disability benefits since March 2012.

Zdena Hock, 65, of Mineola, receives $1,300 every two weeks in workers' compensation, according to a complaint filed by agents of the postal service's inspector general's office. Documents did not say at which postal facility on Long Island she worked. But sources said she worked as a secretary in the human resources office of the Mid Island Processing and Distribution Center in Melville. The sources did not know whether she handled disability claims.

Hock was released on $75,000 bond after a hearing in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, pending future hearings. She was not required to enter a plea.

She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Hock's attorney, federal public defender Randi Chavis, declined to comment, as did Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Canty.

In January 2012, the complaint said, Hock filed for disability benefits, saying she so seriously hurt her back and neck from filing paperwork that she was "incapable of continuing to work for the Postal Service." In a subsequent interview, Hock said her pain was between "strong and severe" and said as a result she engaged in "almost no activity."

Every four to six weeks after her initial request for disability benefits, Hock took a required medical exam at which she repeated what she said was her condition, the complaint said.

Yet, a federal agent said in the complaint that last summer she saw Hock swimming in her neighborhood pool three times a week, "including jumping into the pool, swimming laps, walking up stairs without assistance . . . ."

In other surveillances since 2012, the agents said, Hock was seen carrying groceries for over a quarter-mile. "During the surveillances," the agent said, Hock "never exhibited any signs of injury to her back and neck."

The investigation began after officials told the inspector general's office they suspected the possibility of fraud because Hock delayed reporting the injuries until six days after they supposedly occurred, the complaint said.

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