Minister Arrested for Collecting Pensions of Deceased Teacher

October 21, 2011 ( - A Bronx pastor has been arrested for collecting nearly $250,000 in pension payments intended for a dead public school teacher.

The New York Daily News reports Victor Rosa, 72, is accused by federal prosecutors of cashing the monthly payments for more than a decade after his tenant Maria Sicardo passed away in 2000. He also sent authorities bogus letters with a forged, notarized signature to prove she was still alive and living at her address.  

According to the news report, Rosa, who worked as a pastor at Esperanza Y Buen Samaritan Mi food pantry in the Bronx, was arrested in Orlando on October 6, and has been released without bail. On the phone with the Daily News, he denied the charges. 

The news report said the alleged con began as soon as Sicardo passed away in April 2000 at St. Barnabas Hospital at age 75. Each time a check arrived in the mail, the pastor would visit Claremont Check Cashing Co. Inc., where he often preached to customers standing in line and never failed to leave without saying: “God bless you”, staff said.  

According to Florida prosecutors, when an employee questioned why he always came to cash a woman’s checks, Rosa told them she lived in the building he owned and he was helping her out. 

From 2000 to last year, Rosa allegedly collected $236,710 in monthly pension payments from the Teachers’ Retirement System and $5,064 in annual UFT Welfare Fund checks. He stopped cashing checks in June 2010, when he told the TRS that Sicardo died in Puerto Rico.