Prison inmates can often earn some spare change to buy personal items by working behind bars, but prosecutors say that wasn’t a big enough payday for Ellis Barner. He lived in Syracuse before he got two to four years at the Oneida Correctional Facility for a felony drug conviction.
That’s where Barner was when he filed for workers’ compensation. After giving his word on the application that he wasn’t incarcerated or convicted of a crime, he collected $4,018 dollars. The checks were sent to his home, where a family member cashed the checks, gave some of the money to Barner at the prison, and saved the rest.
The convict was using his real name to claim the benefits. What the people prosecuting him don’t say, is why New York doesn’t have a system to verify that the people who claim to be injured workers aren’t working from behind bars to game the system.