So who are the former New York cops, firemen and corrections officers who allegedly defrauded taxpayers out of millions by faking disabilities – around half of whom claimed mental trauma from the 9/11 attacks – in order to pad their own pockets by taking advantage of those they swore to protect?
When announcing the massive fraud, prosecutors in New York Tuesday provided a few examples of the people Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said "cynically manufactured claims of mental illness" in order to receive benefits.
Patrick J. Lynch, President of the Police Benevolent Association, said that "while we do not condone anyone filing false claims, we caution everyone to recognize that there are serious psychological illnesses resulting from devastating work performed by first responders following the attack on the World Trade Center and in performing the dangerous and difficult work of police officers."
"These benefits are essential to the very survival of those first responders who have truly been incapacitated by the horror of 9/11 exposures and the stresses of big city policing."
See some of the men accused in the following pages, all of whom are innocent until proven guilty and have not identified an attorney as of this report, and CLICK HERE for the full story with details of the stunning case including how the alleged fraudsters learned to trick the system.
|The Alleged Fraud's Ringleaders|
This chart shows the leadership of what prosecutors called a "criminal fraud scheme" to bilk the U.S. Social Security Administration of millions of dollars. The men pictured here allegedly solicited and recruited retired NYC police officers, firefighters, corrections officers and others, and coached them on how to "falsely claim mental problems that prevented them from working" and caring for themselves, making the alleged conspirators eligible for disability benefits.
Raymond Lavallee, the 81-year-old attorney at the top of the pyramid, oversaw the operation with 89-year-old Thomas Hale, a disability consultant, court papers allege. Lavallee's attorney, Raymond Perini, told reporters Tuesday his client is a "decorated Korean War vet, FBI agent and prosecutor [who] lost his 60-year reputation today, and we are going to win that back in the courtroom." Hale's attorney likewise defended his client, saying Hale's consulting business would prove legitimate.
Attorneys for Lavallee and Hale's two lieutenants also denied the charges against their clients.
Collecting payments since: June 2009
Total amount: $175,758.40
Prosecutors say Glenn Lieberman is one of the dozens of former police officers involved in the scheme. Starting in June 2009, he began collecting benefits up to a total of $175,758. The above image, shown in a prosecutors' press conference Tuesday, is from Lieberman's Facebook page and shows him apparently happily riding a jet ski, despite his supposed nearly incapacitating mental disability.
Collecting payments since: May 2008
Total amount: $207,639.70
Another former New York policeman, Richard Cosentino, apparently felt well enough to hoist a Marlin during a fishing trip to Costa Rica – as seen in this Facebook picture provided by prosecutors -- even after suffering such trauma that in May 2008 he began collecting disability payments. Over the intervening years, Consentino collected over $200,000 in benefits.
Collecting payments since: October 2009
Total amount: $108,930.30
Joseph Morrone claimed in October 2009 that he suffered mental trauma, enough so that he's collected over $100,000 in disability payments since, according to prosecutors. But before he was identified as an alleged fraudster, prosecutors said he was featured on a local television program working a cannoli stand at the San Genaro festival in Manhattan last year.
Collecting payments since: June 1989
Total amount: $470,395.20
Louis Hurtado began collecting disability benefits 12 years before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Prosecutors say that over the better part of the last two decades Hurtado has pulled in nearly $500,000 in taxpayer money, even though they say he's listed on a popular martial arts website as an instructor. A video posted on YouTube appears to show Hurtado performing complex and physically demanding martial arts maneuvers in a demonstration.
Collecting payments since: November 2005
Total amount: $232,443.70
Prosecutors say Michael Scialabba bills himself as a helicopter pilot on Facebook, complete with cockpit profile picture. Scialabba has been collecting disability since November 2005 for a total of nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
Collecting payments from May to June 2013
Total amount: $58,724
Darrin Lamantia, who received nearly $60,000 in just a month last year for his debilitating injuries, was under "physical surveillance" when this photo was snapped of him shooting hoops, according to court documents.