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Former Seaway worker sentenced to probation for $85,000 disability fraud

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MASSENA — A former St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. employee was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court, Utica, to three years’ federal probation for defrauding the U.S. Department of Labor of nearly $85,000 by receiving disability benefits while running his own company.

Thomas Schneller, 53, a millwright with the U.S. Department of Transportation working for the Seaway corporation, pleaded guilty July 3 in U.S. District Court, Utica, to workers’ compensation fraud.

He admitted receiving $84,987 in benefits by making false statements and representations to obtain the benefits, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The office said Mr. Schneller admitted he falsely represented that he was not employed, self-employed or involved in any business enterprise between August 2006 and November 2008 when he was collecting federal workers’ compensation benefits. At the time, Mr. Schneller worked for his own company, AKJ Marine, a marine contracting firm that specialized in docks, boat lifts, seawalls and pile-driving along the St. Lawrence River.

In addition to probation supervision, he was ordered to pay full restitution to the Department of Labor, serve six months’ home detention and perform 100 hours of community service.

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