More than two dozen police and firefighters were charged Tuesday in connection with a growing disability fraud scam. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
One by one, police walked 28 people into court to face arraignment on felony grand larceny and other misdemeanor charges. Prosecutors say 16 of the accused are retired NYPD officers and four used to be city firefighters.
"We obviously are devoting a lot of resources to it, we want to get the right result, we want to hold people accountable,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.;
Vance says the defendants claimed post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression, in some cases because of their association with the 9/11 attacks.
They allegedly collected between $32,000 and almost $400,000 in Social Security Disability Benefits, even though investigators say they could work.
"What’s important, from our perspective, that all of us make sure that dollars that are reserved for the most needy go to the most needy and that those who steal from Social Security and take away from those that need it most, are held accountable for it,” Vance said.
The same multi-year investigation led to 106 arrests in January for similar crimes. Seventy two of them were former cops who allegedly said they couldn't work.
But the DA released pictures which seemed to paint a different story of their health, one flipping the bird, another catching a fish.
Prosecutors also charged four alleged ringleaders Tuesday with conspiracy, saying they coached others to lie and received payments.
That's 134 people in total charged now. The DA says some may get jail time, others will not.
"Restitution will certainly be a requirement in all of the cases,” said Vance.
Two of those initially charged have pleaded guilty.
The DA says the investigation continues.