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Disabled' Boston Firefighter Acquitted of Fraud Despite Bodybuilding Pics

"Taxpayers expect an honest day’s work for a fair day’s pay from every public servant.”

A former Boston firefighter who participated in a bodybuilding contest after claiming he was permanently disabled has been found not guilty of fraud. WBZ reports on the stunning acquittal of Albert Arroyo and reaction from New Englanders:

A federal jury acquitted Albert Arroyo on Monday, two weeks after he pleaded not guilty to mail fraud for what prosecutors say was an attempt to collect a tax-free accidental disability he was not entitled to receive.

Arroyo claimed he was disabled when he hurt his back in a fall at a Boston fire station in March 2008. He was seen two months later participating in a bodybuilding contest.

Prosecutors said Arroyo didn’t disclose the activity on his disability pension application, where he sought to collect an annual tax-free pension of $65,000.

"Taxpayers expect an honest day’s work for a fair day’s pay from every public servant,” U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said to the Boston Globe. “We will continue to investigate and prosecute allegations of these types of frauds.”

His attorney, Timothy Watkins, said that bodybuilding was good for Arroyo’s back injury.

Watkins said Monday they are “very grateful that the jury was able to thoughtfully consider all of the evidence.”  That jury found that federal prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence to support criminal convictions for mail fraud, despite being shown video of Arroyo in May 2008 participating in the bodybuilding competition.

Boston city legislators responded in shock to the acquittal.  The Boston Herald reports that Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, called the verdict "unfortunate" and said the city of Boston has no intention of resuming payments to Arroyo.

“Mr. Arroyo no longer works for the city,” Joyce said. “It was determined he could perform the duties assigned to him and (he) was ordered to return to work and refused to return. We stand by that decision.”

City Council President Stephen Murphy said he was “stunned,” but said, “I don’t think there’s going to be a run on the Retirement Board because this guy lucked out. I don’t think anyone would be that dumb.”

The 49-year-old Arroyo has been a firefighter since 1986. He was fired in 2008 after following the bodybuilding controversy and refusing to return to work.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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