Official: More than 100 NYC police and firefighters indicted in PTSD scam

Posted at 10:40 AM, Jan 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-07 12:40:26-05

By Susan Candiotti

NEW YORK (CNN) — More than 100 retired New York City police and firefighters have been indicted in a massive Social Security disability scam involving hundreds of millions of dollars — with more than half the recipients receiving fraudulent funds for 9/11 post-traumatic stress disorder claims, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

The alleged scam spanned more than two decades, with law enforcement officers and firefighters coached on how to behave before doctors in order to qualify for full disability, the official said Tuesday.

The individuals received $50,000 a year on average because, they claimed, they were no longer able to work, according to the source. Many of the claims allegedly involved work-related trauma caused by the 9/11 terror attacks. The 9/11-related claims alone totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Some of those charged went on to other jobs, including teaching martial arts, even though the full disability they received involved a diagnosis that they were so traumatized they were incapable of performing any kind of work, the official added.

Among those indicted are the people who allegedly concocted the scheme dating back to 1988, including lawyer and former FBI agent Raymond LaVallee, a pension consultant, and a detective’s union official, the source said.

LaVallee could not be reached for comment.

During the course of the scam, hundreds of millions of dollars were fraudulently paid to recipients, according to an investigation started by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The Social Security Administration, New York Police Department Internal Affairs, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations helped crack the case.

Prosecutors were to release more details during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, including photographs and a video of defendants engaged in activities that would have disqualified them from receiving taxpayer-funded PTSD benefits.

Some continued to receive additional income from pension funds and other sources during the scam, the official added.

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