(Christopher Robbins) Roughly 1,000 people, including 80 retired members of the NYPD and FDNY, allegedly stole as much as $400 million from the federal government by claiming false psychiatric disabilities and collecting payments from the Social Security Administration. According to an indictment filed by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance that was obtained by the Times, many of the city employees claimed that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were responsible for their bogus ailments.
The indictment alleges that the former city employees were coached to appear "disheveled and disoriented" during interviews with doctors who were charged with determining whether they were too disabled by depression, PTSD, or other psychiatric issues, to perform their work.
[A court document] includes photographs culled from the Internet that show one riding a jet ski and others working at jobs ranging from helicopter pilot to martial arts instructor. One is shown fishing off the coast of Costa Rica and another sitting astride a motorcycle, while another appeared in a television news story selling cannoli at the Feast of San Gennaro on Mulberry Street in Manhattan.
The DA identifies the ringleaders of the operation as 83-year-old attorney and former FBI agent and prosecutor Raymond Lavallee; 89-year-old pension consultant Thomas Hale; 61-year-old detectives union official John Minerva; and 64-year-old former NYPD officer Joseph Esposito, who allegedly helped recruit new members for the scam (not to be confused with the former Chief of Department).
The 102 people named in the indictment stole $21.4 million. Officials say that many more city employees could be involved.
The four men are charged with first and second degree grand larceny, and attempted second degree grand larceny, while 72 other retired officers and eight former FDNY employees were charged with second degree grand larceny and attempted second degree grand larceny.
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