Yet another staffing scandal rocks SUNY Upstate
By SHERRY HALBROOK
The chief of staff at SUNY’s Upstate University Medical Center in Syracuse, Sergio A. Garcia, resigned May 21 after newspaper stories in Albany and Syracuse revealed major misstatements and misrepresentations by him about his qualifications and employment history.
“Unqualified, apparently dishonest people are being hired for high-paying, sometimes ‘no-show’ jobs, while the hardworking PEF nurses and health care professionals who care for patients are being underpaid and overworked. Enough is enough!” said PEF President Wayne Spence May 19 when the Albany Times Union ran its story after fact-checking video-taped comments Garcia made at a conference in 2017.
Earlier in 2018, the Syracuse Post Standard reported that the hospital paid its retired CEO, Dr. John McCabe, $660,500 in 2017 for “consultant work.” After the story broke about Garcia, the Post Standard reported that McCabe said he had agreed to retire on condition that he receive the pay, but not return to the hospital campus. He said he signed a secret non-disclosure agreement with the hospital that precludes him from saying what work, if any, he was being paid to do as a consultant.
That agreement with McCabe was also signed by Upstate’s president, Dr. Danielle Laraque-Arena, who hired Garcia as her chief of staff in March 2017. He received a $340,000 annual salary.
Garcia had asserted that he was a friend of former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and that he had been interviewed by then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell before being hired by the U.S. State Department. Garcia also claimed he was in the White House during the attacks of 9/11 and that he was present in 2011 (it actually happened in 2013) when another State Department employee was killed by a bomb in Afghanistan. All of those assertions were debunked by the Times Union.
The newspaper also reported that Garcia omitted from his resume that he had been charged with embezzlement and falsifying bank records while working at a California bank in 1998, but the charges were dropped in 1999 after he completed 100 hours of community service.
In previous years, the Syracuse paper revealed other dubious payments and financial practices at the SUNY hospital, which is a regional trauma center serving that part of the state.