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Florida woman convicted for stealing over $148k in NYS pension benefits

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Staff writer |
New York court
Retirement   Kanas stole in excess of $148,000

Renee Kanas, a resident of Tamarac, Fl., pleaded guilty for stealing over $148,000 in pension payments from the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System.

Payments were made look as going to her father, Jacob Yudenfreund, a New York State pensioner who died in March 2010.

Having failed to notify the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System of her father’s passing in March 2010, Kanas admitted to having stolen the pension benefits intended for Mr. Yudenfreund for almost five years after his death, until January 2015.

In total, Kanas stole in excess of $148,000 by accessing a joint bank account she held with her deceased father and liquidating all but $1,207.55.

Mr. Yudenfreund was a New York State pensioner who elected to receive reduced monthly benefits so his wife, Doris Yudenfreund, would continue to receive benefits after his death. Mrs. Yudenfreund, however, predeceased Mr. Yudenfreund. As such, upon Mr. Yudenfreund’s passing in March 2010, his pension benefits ceased.

However, due to Kanas’ failure to notify the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System of her father’s death, she continued to collect his pension benefits for approximately five years. During this time period, Kanas lived off of the stolen money and, among other things, took multiple cruises, including to the Caribbean.

In May 2016, Kanas was arrested on a warrant by City of Tamarac Road Patrol and Broward County Sherriff’s in Florida. Having been brought to Albany County to face these charges in June, Kanas today pleaded guilty before Honorable Thomas A. Breslin in Albany Supreme Court.

As part of her plea, the defendant signed a confession of judgment in favor of New York State in the amount of $148,092.24. Kanas faces up to two to six years in state prison when she is sentenced on September 30th.

The investigation was conducted by the Attorney General and the New York State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations.

This case is the latest joint investigation under the Operation Integrity partnership of the Attorney General and Comptroller, which to date has resulted in dozens of convictions and more than $11 million in restitution.

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