Law enforcement officials rounded up more than 100 suspects Tuesday morning in a massive disability fraud investigation in the New York City area, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
The group’s suspected ringleaders — retired officer Joseph Esposito, 64; detectives’ union disability consultant John Minerva, 61; lawyer and former FBI agent and suburban prosecutor Raymond Lavallee, 83; and benefits consultant Thomas Hale, 89 – turned themselves in Tuesday, CNBC.com reported.
The four have plead not guilty to charges of high-level grand larceny.
Prosecutors say the group responsible for the alleged disability scheme, which initial estimates value at around $400 million, is made up almost entirely of first responders.
The arrested former police officers and firemen were “mostly from the tri-state area but some from as far away as Florida,” CNBC added. “Most of the police and firemen arrested are former New York City workers.”
Prosecutors say roughly 72 city police officers, eight firefighters, five correction officers and one Nassau County Police Department officer were involved in the scheme that lasted for more than two decades.
The suspects rounded up Tuesday are accused of scamming millions in disability benefits by falsely claiming to suffer from stress-relates illnesses.
Lavallee, Minerva, Hale and Esposito over the course of 26 years reportedly recruited other NYPD officers, fire fighters and correction officers and taught them how to submit the fraudulent claims and fake stress-related illnesses.
Authorities have so far released two photos of two men suspected of participating in the multimillion-dollar scheme:
Prosecutors say two doctors have also been arrested for allegedly agreeing to falsify claims in return for a cut of the disability benefits.
Several of the suspects arrested Tuesday were also receiving their 9/11 pensions, one source said. Authorities expect the final amount of cash scammed to increase as they uncover more details of the fraud.
Spokespersons for the NYFD and NYPD did not immediately return TheBlaze’s request for comment.
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This post has been updated.
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