- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A New York prison guard has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges that he participated in a $1.6 million scheme to sell state workers earbuds and earplugs while billing the state insurance system for hearing aids.

State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott announced Auburn Correctional Officer Joshua Powers’ plea on Thursday.

Authorities say the owner of a Syracuse-area hearing aids store paid Powers $72,000 to refer hundreds of state workers to his practice, where he sold them earbuds and earplugs. The devices were billed to the state at $3,000 per device.

The employees paid no out-of-pocket expenses for the earbuds, designed for video games and music.

The store’s owner, Joshua Miller, is charged with grand larceny and health care fraud.

Miller didn’t respond to an email and phone message. Powers’ phone is unlisted.

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