A former Long Island prosecutor, a pension consultant, and two others turned themselves in to authorities after law enforcement uncovered a complex system in which firefighters and law enforcement officials were coached to behave a certain way to cause doctors to falsely diagnose them with diseases and disabilities. Those doing the coaching – in some cases, doctors themselves – would receive money for their services from the bundle received by “patients.” Many claimed such illnesses, according to CNN, in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, as the scam has spanned more than two decades. The money they received for their fraudulent illnesses was from, in many cases, the same pool of money that would have gone to help 9/11 first responders. Eighty retired police officers alone were in the indictment, the New York Times reports.
With four of the major organizers of the plot under arrest, the Manhattan DA now promises it will target the police officers and firefighters committing the actual fraud in person, as well as at least two doctors who may have been complicit in the scheme. Those who organized the plot, according to the New York Daily News, received a “kickback” from the police and firefighters once they received their government benefits for illnesses they did not have.
The Times adds that these disability claims were often substantial, from $30,000 to $50,000 a year for medical issues that did not exist. The Times also notes the photograph of one of those indicted fishing on vacation with the money alleged to be for his disability. CNBC highlights perhaps the most shocking one: suspect Glenn Lieberman, riding a jet-ski, sticking his two middle fingers up to the camera. Lieberman alone is said to have stolen more than $175,000 from the federal government in the scam.
While most of those indicted are patients and receiving charges like second-degree grand larceny or criminal facilitation, many of those in the upper rings of the conspiracy can face up to 25 years in prison. The defense for many of the indicted has yet to speak, though many at the top of the scheme have turned themselves in. The Manhattan DA does not expect this to be the end of the story, however, stating at today’s press conference announcing the arrests that this was “just the beginning” and that more information would be revealed and examined “in the upcoming months.”