More than 100 retired police officers, firefighters and others have been charged by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in what is likely one of the biggest Social Security fraud cases on record.
Though many of the alleged fraudulent claims were filed in the years immediately following the September 11th attacks, prosecutors say the scheme stretches back 26 years. It centers on a four men: a former prosecutor, a former police officer, a union official and a disability consultant.
Together, these four are accused of coaching as many as 1,000 uniformed officers in how to receive benefits. Prosecutors say they stole as much as $400 million dollars.
The evidence includes a screenshot taken from a Facebook page allegedly showing a man who had been collecting benefits for years, standing on a boat, proudly clutching what appears to be a huge swordfish.
In this interview, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the scheme is "doubly disturbing" because the money is reserved for 9/11 victims.
"There are those individuals who suffered true trauma as a result of running to the fires on September 11th, and this safety net is really reserved for those people like them, individuals who ... truly and really cannot provide for their families," he said.