Ex-university official charged with lying to get $340K job

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A former New York medical university official lied on his resume to land a $340,000-a-year state job, falsely claiming he held a college degree from Mexico and worked for the U.S. Department of State as chief of staff, authorities said.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Sergio Garcia is charged with felony accounts of filing a false official record and defrauding the government.

Garcia resigned last May as chief of staff for the president of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse after the Times Union of Albany reported he had fabricated several claims, including surviving an attack in Afghanistan while employed by the State Department.

Fitzpatrick said Garcia lied on the resume he submitted to SUNY officials, who hired him in early 2017. Garcia, 44, falsely claimed he graduated from a Mexican university and also claimed to have previously served as State Department chief of staff, the district attorney said.

“He actually attended that university in Mexico but he never graduated,” Fitzpatrick told the Times Union, adding that at the State Department Garcia “was basically just a grunt.”

The name of Garcia’s lawyer wasn’t available from prosecutors on Thursday. A working telephone number for Garcia couldn’t be found.

Garcia’s arrest Wednesday, first reported by Syracuse.com , comes amid a broader investigation by Fitzpatrick into Upstate Medical University, which includes a state-run hospital. The probe includes looking into the institution’s hiring decisions and the severance packages given to administrators.

The Times Union reported last spring that Garcia claimed he was part of a three-vehicle convoy delivering books to an all-girls school in Afghanistan in 2011 when a blast killed one of his colleagues.

But the father of Anne Smedinghoff, the American woman who was killed, told the newspaper he had never heard of Garcia.

The bombing Garcia described actually happened in 2013, after he had left the country, according to the Times Union. Garcia wasn’t at the bombing scene, according to State Department records and interviews with people familiar with the incident, including Jonathan Addleton, a now-retired State Department official who survived the bombing, the newspaper reported.

A State Department official told the Times Union that Garcia was employed as a foreign affairs officer from August 2004 through April 2006.