NYC adds 28 to 106 charged in Social Security disability fraud case

Feb. 25, 2014 at 9:54 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- New York City prosecutors Tuesday announced the indictment of 28 more people in their "massive" Social Security disability insurance fraud investigation.

Along with the 28 new defendants, four who were among the 106 originally indicted in early January were named on additional charges, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement posted on his office's website.

"Last month's indictment was the first step in ending a massive fraud against American taxpayers," Vance said. "Today, dozens of additional defendants have been charged with fabricating psychiatric conditions in order to fraudulently obtain Social Security disability insurance, a critically important social safety net reserved for those truly in need.

"These defendants are accused of gaming the system by lying about their lifestyle, including their ability to work, drive, handle money, shop and socialize, in order to obtain benefits to which they were not entitled. Their lies were repetitive and extensive."

Vance said his office, in conjunction with the U.S. Social Security Administration, was working to bring additional cases.

The latest suspects are accused of fraudulently applying for and receiving Social Security disability benefits by claiming they suffered a psychiatric condition that prevented them from working, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression. Some claimed their conditions were related the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Sixteen are also collecting pension as retired New York City police officers, four are retired firefighters, one is collecting pensions from both the police and fire departments, and one is retired from the Corrections Department.

Prosecutors allege that while many of the defendants are legitimately entitled to state disability pensions, they were not entitled to SSDI benefits because they are not completely disabled to work.

Those indicted in January included 72 former police officers and eight ex-firefighters.

Authorities are calling it a $400 million fraud.

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