Officials: Ex-NYPD, FDNY workers charged in massive disability fraud scam

The suspects allegedly faked stress-related disabilities to get tens of thousands of dollars in federal benefits.

The suspects allegedly faked stress-related disabilities to get tens of thousands of dollars in federal benefits. (1/7/14)

MANHATTAN - Officials say dozens of NYPD officers and FDNY firefighters were arrested today in a massive disability fraud scam.

Prosecutors have charged 106 suspects in the alleged scam. Authorities say half of the applicants falsely claimed to have disabilities caused by Sept. 11.

Prosecutors say four key suspects, including a lawyer and two NYPD officers, helped orchestrate the scam that went on for years.

Officials say that since at least 1988, the men coached hundreds of individuals on how to convince the Social Security system that they were are unable to perform daily tasks that kept them out of work. Investigators say they snapped pictures of many of those on disability engaged in activities like martial arts and Jet Skiing.

Joseph Esposito, of Valley Stream, and John Minerva, of Malverne, allegedly recruited new participants in the scam. Officials say Raymond Lavallee, of Massapequa, and Thomas Hale filed the applications and received large kickbacks in return. They say the men received $20,000 to $50,000 in cash at locations across Long Island, including Lavallee's Massapequa home.

Attorneys for Esposito and Lavallee say their clients are vehemently denying the allegations. Lavallee's attorney says his client is a lawyer who advocated for all of his clients.

James Hayes, of Homeland Security Investigations, had a message for those that may be involved with the case.

"My office is committed to chasing down every penny that these dishonorable thieves pilfer and will be there for the hard working professionals who suffer legitimate injuries while protecting our city," said Hayes.

Investigators estimate that the total amount stolen from taxpayers could reach $400 million in unlawful payments.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Top 5 Must See

Dr. Melinda Edwards taught and inspired the students 1 Former students surprise Baldwin H.S. chorus teacher
Demonstrators sit on the ground along Pennsylvania Ave. 2 Thousands march across US to protest Trump climate policies
Tens of thousands of Long Island students are 3 Thousands of students to opt out of state testing
Trump's road to the White House, paved in 4 Trump's 100-days vows: Hits, misses, unfinished business
According to police, Christopher Vorisek, of Farmingville was 5 Man arrested for DWI after fatal motorcycle crash in Selden

advertisement | advertise on News 12


Each week, News 12's Doug Geed explores the Check out fun things to do on the East End!

Explore the Twin Forks with News 12's Doug Geed.

Each week a different shelter visits News 12 Dog Day Fridays Series

Each week a different shelter visits News 12 Long Island with pets up for adoption.

News 12 digs deep to find Long Island's Discover Long Island's Hidden Past

News 12's Danielle Campbell digs into Long Island's roots.

News 12's Lily Stolzberg sees how much Long On The Spot

News 12's Lily Stolzberg sees how much Long Islanders know about everything and anything.

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.