Ex-NY police officers charged in disability scam

January 8, 2014 9:52:44 AM PST
One retired police officer who told the government he was too psychologically damaged to work ran a martial arts studio, prosecutors said. Another claimed his depression was so crippling it kept him house-bound, but he was photographed aboard a watercraft, they said. A third man who said he was incapable of social interactions manned a cannoli stand at a street festival.

All were wrongly receiving thousands of dollars in federal disability benefits, prosecutors said Tuesday in announcing a sweeping fraud case involving scores of retired officers, firefighters and jail guards. The retirees faked psychiatric problems, authorities said, and many falsely claimed their conditions arose after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The brazenness is shocking," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said.

More than 100 people were arrested, including 72 city police officers, eight firefighters, five correction officers and one Nassau County Police Department officer.

Four ringleaders coached the former workers on how to feign depression and other mental health problems that allowed them to get payouts as high as $500,000 over decades, Vance said. The ringleaders made tens of thousands of dollars in secret kickbacks, he said.

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