More than 100 first responders who claimed to have psychiatric conditions and medical disorders because of their work at Ground Zero are being arrested today for disability fraud.
The arrests come after the Manhattan District Attorney’s office spent more than two years investigating the claims made by some NYPD officers and firemen who were part of the September 11 response and clean up efforts.
The officers submitted forms saying that they had varying disorders like PTSD, anxiety or depression- claims which were discovered to have falsified.
ABC 7 reports that many of the retired officers that had said that they were being treated for stress retained their gun licences, which is not allowed if the holder has such a condition.
Another tip off was that in order to receive the benefits, the individuals had to be fully retired and while the majority of them had retired from the New York police and fire departments, many had taken up a second job.
Investigators used photos on Facebook as evidence that the men have taken up jobs ranging from martial arts instructors to helicopter pilots.
Some photos directly contradicted specific parts of the disorders that the responding officers claimed to have.
Participants would start out by contacting John Minerva, 61, a Detectives Endowment Association consultant, or Joseph Esposito, 64, a retired member of the NYPD.
Minerva or Esposito would then refer the fraudsters to one of two lawyers who were in on the scheme- Thomas Hale, 89, and former FBI agent Raymond Lavallee, 83.
All four are charged with first and second degree grand larceny. The 9/11 disability claims are not the first that the four men have had a hand in, as ABC reports that they are believed to have been running disability scams since 1988.
‘My client’s involvement in this scheme was minimal at best… he maintains his innocence,’ Minerva’s lawyer Glenn Hardy told The New York Daily News.
The lawyers put the schemers in touch with two different doctors- but not after some coaching.
The district attorney laid out a series of different trigger phrases that would help justify an anxiety condition prescription.
They range from ‘I nap on and off during the day’ to ‘my (family member) is always after me about my grooming’.
Read more at the DailyMail.
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