NEW YORK (AP) — A sprawling criminal case accusing more
than 100 retired firefighters, police officers, jail guards and others
of scamming the Social Security disability system ensnared 28 more
people with charges Tuesday, including sons of some alleged ringleaders.
case already involved 106 people and $22 million in what the Manhattan
district attorney’s office says were ill-gotten psychiatric disability
benefits. Prosecutors had estimated, when unveiling the case last month,
that it ultimately could encompass hundreds of people and as much as
"These defendants are accused of gaming the system
by lying about their lifestyle," DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a
statement Tuesday. "Their lies were repetitive and extensive."
retirees are accused of falsely claiming they had depression,
post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological problems so
crushing they couldn’t work. Many recipients were advised to link their
supposed symptoms to 9/11, prosecutors say.
Yet some led lives
that baldly contradicted their claims — running a martial-arts studio,
flying helicopters, traveling overseas, and more, according to
The new allegations are similar: faking psychiatric
problems to get Social Security disability benefits. Prosecutors say
many recipients were advised to link their supposed symptoms to 9/11.
new defendants — Saverio "Sam" Esposito, 48, and Douglas Hale, 53 — are
charged with collecting benefits in a fraud their fathers allegedly
Esposito’s lawyer, Kira Treyvus, had no immediate comment.
Douglas Hale asserts his innocence, lawyer Keith O’Halloran, said.
"We look forward to fighting these charges in court," O’Halloran said.
defendants’ fathers, retired police officer Joseph Esposito and
benefits consultant Thomas Hale, are among four men accused of coaching
the retirees on how to fake symptoms and taking tens of thousands of
dollars in secret kickbacks. All four deny the allegations.
Two benefits recipients have pleaded guilty since their arrests in the first wave of charges last month.
Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.
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