Audit: 6 RI retirees got $559K in pension overpayments

An outside audit firm found more than $500,000 in overpayment of disability pensions to six Rhode Island retirees dating back to 2001.

The audit by Sullivan and Company, ordered by General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, did not determine whether the recipients did anything wrong, or whether the overpayment was the result of mistakes by the retirement board.

Nonetheless, Raimondo announced a crackdown on any potential fraud, by starting the hiring process for a private investigator to keep watch on disability pensioners.

Raimondo also has struck a deal with Lifespan, she says, to provide 65 doctors to review disability claims.

At the same time, she takes note of the 20 recommendations by the auditor to make the system of disability retirement payments less sloppy.

"We are improving the way we operate to be more accurate, more efficient, more accountable and that's why we're hiring, we're moving to hire, an investigator to make sure that people should know we are not going to tolerate fraud -- period," Raimondo said.

She said if any of the six retirees who received unwarranted payments did it on purpose, they will be prosecuted either civilly or criminally.