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Massapequa Man Indicted in Disability Fraud Scheme

A Massapequa man was among 106 people indicted in a social security disability scheme, Manhattan prosecutors said Tuesday.

According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., 80 retired New York City firefighters and police officers lied about their medical conditions to get benefits they weren't eligible for. 

These men were allegedly coached by four Long Island men, including Attorney Raymond Lavallee, 83, of Massapequa, a former assistant district attorney for Nassau County, Thomas Hale, 89, of Bellmore, detectives union official John Minerva, 61, of Malverne, and retired NYPD officer Joseph Esposito, 70, of Valley Stream.

They're all charged with first- and second-degree grand larceny and second-degree attempted grand larceny, all of which are felonies. 

Those indicted collected between $30,000 and $50,000 annually after claiming they were unable to work due to serious mental disorders. Some people have already collected almost $500,000. 

The other 102 defendants are charged with second-degree grand larceny and second-degree attempted grand larceny, which are both felonies. According to investigators, $21.5 million in benefits was wrongly paid thus far.

"For years, federal taxpayers have unwittingly financed the lifestyles of the defendants charged today,” Vance said. “The Social Security Disability safety net exists to help those who are unable to help themselves. Many participants cynically manufactured claims of mental illness as a result of September 11th, dishonoring the first responders who did serve their City at the expense of their own health and safety."

"The retired members of the NYPD indicted in this case have disgraced all first responders who perished during the search and rescue efforts on September 11, 2001, and those who subsequently died from 9/11 related illness, by exploiting their involvements that tragic day for personal gain," New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton added. "I would like to thank members of the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the United States Social Security Administration Inspector General for working together to uncover this deception and fraud and bring these criminals to justice."

For more on this story, click here.
Concerned Long Islander January 07, 2014 at 06:31 PM
It's a sad shame that it's taken a decade to finally bring these frauds to public notice, thrilling nonetheless. We MUST ensure that all claims are thoroughly investigated and false claims identified and handled immediately. I'm thrilled to hear taxpayers should see a return of their funds into the proper coffers. I only hope the feds are able to get that money...not to mention that these felons deserve their time in prison.
ed January 07, 2014 at 08:50 PM
The taxpayer never gets a reduction in taxes. Govt will find a way to spend it
theresa January 08, 2014 at 04:28 AM
just because this story broke, doesn't mean a darn thing…These people will hire lawyers, fight these allegations and go on their merry ways!! Look who did this…public servants. Boy isn't that just great..somehow these knuckleheads think they deserve what they were getting…I say pay it back & go to jail.
LT January 08, 2014 at 07:20 AM
a former ADA coached them. how nice. criminals, all of them. throw them all in jail.
Cosmo January 08, 2014 at 09:24 AM
Let them rot!
Massa January 08, 2014 at 12:34 PM
It is good that they are doing something about this. Their are two many people who are scamming injuries and getting paid for this while others who they work with do their time as police officers or firefighters and retire without cheating. Some of these men and women are proud that they got this and feel it is ok. Yes, it is ok if you are really injured and can't work, but don't disgrace other people who work hard everyday because you want to scam and sit on your ass. That is just wrong and they deserve what they get.
concerned citizen January 09, 2014 at 03:46 PM
ooh baby! .. the snowball is gonna roll down hill once they start chirpin ! .. too bad they will collect pensions in jail and then get a double dip job when they get out!
ed January 11, 2014 at 04:23 PM
Its amazing how this angers the public more than 17 TRILLION in TAXPAYER money going to BIG BANKS for bailouts!
LT January 11, 2014 at 08:15 PM
what part makes you think this angers the public more than the bank bailouts.
Massa January 11, 2014 at 08:24 PM
It's all sickening. Whoever scams money is a loser.
ed January 13, 2014 at 04:36 PM
LT because its ignored in the media. Newsday cares more about union workers getting a pension rather than TRILLION dollar TAXPAYER PAID bailout for corporations and foreign banks!

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