Society

Police Officers, Firefighters Suspected in 9/11 Disability Fraud Case Totaling $400 Million

| by Lina Batarags

In a shocking turn of events, those who are meant to enforce laws and regulations are actually the ones breaking them. On Tuesday morning, more than 100 suspects were charged with falsely claiming to have been traumatized by the September 11 attacks.

The scheme was masterminded by a group of four men, who turned themselves in on Tuesday. Retired officer Joseph Esposito (64), detectives’ union disability consultant John Minerva (61), lawyer, former FBI agent and suburban prosecutor Raymond Lavallee (83), and benefits consultant Thomas Hale (89) had been leading the scheme for an astonishing 26 years.

The four men had recruited hundreds of others to their scheme, teaching them how to feign the symptoms that made them supposedly unable to work, and therefore eligible for monthly disability payments.

Nearly all of those suspected are first responders, including 72 city police officers, eight firefighters, five correction officers, and one Nassau County Police Department officer.

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Many of these suspects were claiming Social Security Disability Insurance benefits ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 a year for a variety of incapacitating psychiatric ailments, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some of these suspects were also receiving their 9/11 pensions.

According to CNBC, the arrested former police officers and firemen were “mostly from the tri-state area,” although some were “from as far away as Florida.”

Two doctors, who allegedly received a portion of the disability benefits for falsifying these claims, have also been arrested.

The investigation is valued at around $400 million. As more details of the scam are uncovered, authorities expect the final amount of cash scammed to increase.

All four ringleaders have pled not guilty to charges of high-level grand larceny.

All 106 defendants face jail sentences if convicted with varying degrees of grand larceny and attempted grand larceny.

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton expressed utter “disgust” at the suspects’ actions.  “The idea that many of them chose the events of 9/11 to claim as the basis for their disability brings further dishonor to themselves,” he said.

 

Sources: The Blaze, Chicago Tribune

Photo Source: CBS News