More than one hundred former city workers, including New York City police officers, firefighters and prison guards, have been charged of faking psychiatric problems in order to receive federal disability benefits.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced the charges Tuesday.
“The brazenness is shocking”.
Prosecutors believe the scheme goes back to 1988. Four ringleaders would coach officers on how to describe symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and other mental illness problems. Some of those charged falsely claimed their conditions were caused by the Sept. 11 attacks. They received payouts as high as $500,000.
Many of the retired city workers have been collecting benefits for years while claiming they were incapable of working. According to prosecutors, one of the defendants who said he couldn’t work was teaching martial arts. Another who claimed his disabilities were so crippling he couldn’t leave the house was photographed on a Sea-Doo watercraft. Many who said they could no longer use computers had Facebook pages.
In total 72 police officers, eight firefighters, five corrections officers and one Nassau County Police Department officer were among those arrested.