80 coppers and firemen charged in social security fraud


Too depressed, too ill to work

Eighty retired New York City police officers and firefighters were charged on Tuesday in one of the largest Social Security disability frauds ever, a sprawling decades-long scheme in which false mental disability claims by as many as 1,000 people cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, according to court papers.

Scores of those charged in the case essentially stole in plain sight, according to a 205-count indictment and a bail letter, collecting between $30,000 and $50,000 a year based on fabricated claims that they were completely incapacitated by serious psychiatric disorders. Many said that their actions in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were responsible for their psychiatric conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression.

But their Facebook pages and other websites, according to the court papers, tell a starkly different story.

The bail letter 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.

Indeed, prosecutors charge that they were coached by the scheme’s organizers to appear disheveled and disoriented during interviews, in which doctors initially evaluated their disability applications before finding them to be mentally disabled and incapable of any work whatsoever.

Read ’em and weep, folks. Weep for the legitimate needs of so many first responders dying of cancer because the city and state won’t admit to carcinogenic materials in building codes.

Save your anger for the scumbags who participated in the scam. Keep a cynical eye on the judicial processes convened to prosecute the ringleaders. These fine upstanding members of the NY legal community, independent experts who consult on compensating the injured and ill, folks chartered to represent the needs of working people. While stealing from the whole community.

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