The Wall Street Journal has reported that 106 people will be arrested soon for allegedly committing social security fraud in connection with post-9/11 trauma and mental illness claims. According to reports, the prosecution’s theory will be that certain individuals provided false information in claims filings which led to huge, unjustified benefits receipts. Specifically, it appears that they will allege that people who submitted these claims either were not completely forthcoming or flat-out lied about the condition they claimed entitled them to the benefit.
Potential felony charges could include grand larceny (PL Article 155), assuming that the alleged theft is over $1,000 per person, falsifying business records (PL Article 175), offering a false instrument for filing (PL Article 175), insurance fraud (PL Article 176), and others.
Each individual case, however, must be examined carefully, as there are sure to be strong defenses to many of the charges and with regard to many of the individuals. After all, many of New York’s Finest and Bravest did in fact suffer debilitating injuries and PTSD as a result of the 9/11 tragedy. However, we expect that any FDNY and NYPD retirees receiving social security disability pensions as a result of 9/11 will at least be investigated, and possibly even be presumed to be guilty of fraud in the eyes of the prosecution (especially so if their applications for disability were assisted by any of the individuals that have already been indicted and arraigned). Thus, it is quite possible that some people will be unfairly charged and prosecuted.
Oftentimes, in matters involving disability fraud, a defendant can negotiate a plea bargain whereby he avoids significant jail time – or jail time altogether – in exchange for repaying the ill-gotten benefits (i.e. paying restitution). However, in this case, we expect that many individuals accused of 9/11-related disability fraud will be unable to pay back the huge sums that they have received. Unfortunately, these guilty individuals that cannot repay their stolen money may face the serious prospect of state prison sentences instead, and thus absolutely need top-notch representation to help them avoid that outcome.
If you or a loved one have become entangled in this investigation in any way, you need to speak to a competent attorney immediately so as to ensure that all the appropriate steps are being taken to preserve and bolster all possible legal defenses. For more information, click here.