100 Government Retirees Collect Millions in Disability Scam

9/11 seems to be a legitimate excuse for everything these days. It’s an excuse to get rid of the 4th Amendment, the 5th Amendment, the 2nd Amendment. An excuse for the NSA to index every phone call made in the country (or the world for that matter). An excuse to monitor everyone’s e-mails and internet habits.

Now, it’s serving as the excuse for a number of retired New York cops, firefighters and jail guards to receive fraudulent disability checks, all while they live the high life:

One retired police officer who told the government he was too psychologically damaged to work ran a martial arts studio, prosecutors said. Another claimed his depression was so crippling it kept him house-bound, but he was photographed aboard a watercraft, they said. A third man who said he was incapable of social interactions manned a cannoli stand at a street festival.

All were wrongly receiving thousands of dollars in federal disability benefits, prosecutors said Tuesday in announcing a sweeping fraud case involving scores of retired officers, firefighters and jail guards. The retirees faked psychiatric problems, authorities said, and many falsely claimed their conditions arose after the Sept. 11 attacks…

More than 100 people were arrested, including 72 city police officers, eight firefighters, five correction officers and one Nassau County Police Department officer…

Among those arrested, former police officer Louis Hurtado taught martial arts in Odessa, Fla., according to his studio’s website, which touts the black belts he’s trained. In another photo, a smiling, tanned Glen Lieberman, a retired officer, gestures obscenely at the camera from aboard a watercraft. Online photos showed another benefits recipient, Joseph Morrone, smiling at the cannoli stand during a TV interview at the San Gennaro Festival in 2009…

The defendants said they couldn’t drive, shop or handle their finances, yet one piloted a helicopter and another played blackjack in Las Vegas, prosecutors said. One traveled to Indonesia and boasted on YouTube about his investment prowess, they said.

There were four “ringleaders” who trained these individuals how to act like they have some sort of mental illness:

The four — retired officer Joseph Esposito, 64; detectives’ union disability consultant John Minerva, 61; lawyer and former FBI agent and suburban prosecutor Raymond Lavallee, 83; and benefits consultant Thomas Hale, 89 — sat stolidly as they pleaded not guilty to high-level grand larceny charges.

Those who were using 9/11 as their excuse were told by these ringleaders to claim that they were afraid of planes or tall buildings. One individual applying for disability was advised to make simple spelling and math errors. Another was told to “fake a panic attack.”

Over 26 years, these people collected about $22 million in fraudulent payouts, and prosecutors speculate that there could be far more people involved and as much as $400 million in fraud benefit payouts.

And this isn’t something that’s unique to government retirees. This happens all the time elsewhere because of how easy it is to game the system. People do this with welfare and unemployment insurance. People are greedy, have no sense of morality and live as if it’s “every man for himself.”

Just wait for people like Paul Krugman or Nancy Pelosi or some talking head on MSNBC to claim that these fraudulent benefit payouts are actually great for the economy.