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Bellmore Man Indicted in Disability Fraud Scheme

A Bellmore 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.

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