106 former New York city workers, including firefighters and police officers, have been charged in a 205 count indictment for faking mental disabilities in order to claim federal social security benefits. All of the accused received help from two lawyers and two police officers who taught the accused how to claim they were mentally scarred on SSID applications in order to collect $30,000 to $50,000 in benefits annually. All in return for cash payments. Many of the accused claimed their disability was due to their rescue efforts on 9/11 at ground zero. An investigation into their claims revealed they were not at ground zero on 9/11.
NBC New York reported:
One police officer who claimed he was mentally disabled was allegedly working as a martial arts instructor, officials said. Another who claimed he could not work was allegedly flying helicopters.
One got benefits because of a fear of crowds and yet was found to be selling cannolis in Little Italy during the Feast of San Gennaro festival that brings more than a million people to the neighborhood. And another went on to allegedly run a private security company.
Many also allegedly claimed to be affected by their efforts on 9/11, yet investigators found many were not even near ground zero that day.
All allegedly got help gaming the system from the same two lawyers and two former police officers who allegedly took cash payments.
Investigators said one of the attorneys who allegedly helped run the scheme is Raymond Lavallee, who worked as an FBI agent in the 1950s and ’60s. Calls to Lavallee’s home and law office were not returned Monday.
The criminal charges expected to be announced Tuesday will include 106 people in all.
The workers were allegedly taught how to claim they were mentally scarred on SSID applications in order to collect $30,000 to $50,000 in benefits annually.
Investigators said Lavallee would receive thousands in cash payments from successful applicants that were at times left for him in paper bags on a park bench near his office.
Applicants were taught to claim that they could not cope with other people or were so mentally disabled that they could not even prepare a meal on their own. They were allegedly told by the four ringleaders to look disheveled in their interviews and claim they went for days without sleep.
Law enforcement sources said the 106 people being charged are just a first wave in what is a growing investigation. As many as 300 to 400 other former city workers are now facing scrutiny.
Many of those charged were expected to appear in Manhattan criminal court Tuesday