80 retired police officers and firefighters charged in massive NYC disability fraud case
Posted Jan 7, 2014 6:48 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Dozens of retired New York City police officers and a handful of retired firefighters were among 106 people charged Tuesday by the Manhattan district attorney with committing one of the biggest Social Security disability frauds ever.
Also charged in the massive case is an 83-year-old lawyer who once worked as a prosecutor and an FBI agent, an 89-year-old pension consultant and a police union official, the New York Times (reg. req.) reports.
The defendants, along with others not charged in the case, are accused of defrauding the city of hundreds of millions of dollars over a period of decades by falsely claiming to have incapacitating mental disabilities that prevented them from working. Many of the cases concern disability claims made in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The lawyer, Raymond Lavallee, is one of four people accused of operating the alleged scheme. All of the defendants face varying grand larceny charges, the Times reports. A lawyer representing one of the claimed ringleaders said he and Lavallee's lawyer will not comment until the defendants are arraigned.
In a letter to a Manhattan judge overseeing the case, assistant district attorneys say they believe it involved as many as 1,000 false claims over a period of 26 years that cost taxpayers $400 million. Unidentified sources told the newspaper that additional charges against new individuals are likely as an investigation continues. The 100-plus people charged today who received benefits got a little over $21 million, according to the letter.
Posts on Facebook and other social media sites showing the defendants engaged in active pursuits after claiming to be unable to work led to charges against a number of defendants, the newspaper reports.
Reuters also has a story.