A former state social worker pleaded guilty this week after being charged with spending much of his work week at a local fitness club instead of caring for disabled individuals. prosecutors said.
State Inspector General Ellen Biben and Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson said Bieder, a former social worker with the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, pleaded guilty Wednesday to falsifying business records in the first degree, a felony.
As part of the plea agreement, Bieder, 58, of Ithaca, paid nearly $9,000 in restitution. Prosecutors will recommend he serve 30 days in jail.
In the most damning example, prosecutors said he falsified records of an individual under his care, indicating she was “in good spirits and has a positive attitude.” Other records, however, indicated her health was rapidly deteriorating and that she died the same day he reported visiting her, prosecutors said.
Fitness club records indicate he checked in at the gym 19 minutes after he said he left the office to visit the person, prosecutors said.
“This former employee not only stole from New Yorkers, he disregarded his critical responsibility to care for and protect some of the State’s most vulnerable citizens,” Biben said in a statement.
Bieder was assigned to OPWDD’s Tompkins Regional Center in Ithaca. Fitness records show that he spent considerable time at the City Health Club in Ithaca, instead of doing his job, prosecutors said.
Bieder was at the fitness club 299 times during periods he reported to have been working in 2008 and 2009, the Inspector General’s Office said. The office said he took $8,626 in salary from the state. He’s paid the money back.
Bieder spent 29 years as a state worker. He retired in September 2010 after his supervisor spotted him at the gym during work hours. His final annual salary was $65,192.
He is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 2.