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More retired cops, firefighters indicted in alleged disability scam

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

A Manhattan grand jury has indicted 32 people, including some retired cops and firefighters, in a massive alleged Social Security disability fraud, District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. announced Tuesday. These new indictments are on top of ones handed down previously in the alleged scam.

Authorities previously arrested and charged Raymond Lavallee, 83, Thomas Hale, 89, Joseph Esposito, 64, and John Minerva, 61. The four now face additional charges of grand larceny in the second degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree.

"Last month's indictment was the first step in ending a massive fraud against American taxpayers," Vance said in a statement. "These defendants are accused of gaming the system by lying about their lifestyle, including their ability to work, drive, handle money, shop, and socialize, in order to obtain benefits to which they were not entitled. Their lies were repetitive and extensive."

Vance said that for 25 years Lavallee, Hale, Esposito, and Minerva basically coached many SSDI applicants, including NPD and FDNY retirees, to lie about their psychiatric conditions so they could get benefits and then got cash kickbacks for their help.

The grand jury indicted 17 NYPD retirees, four FDNY retires, and a retired corrections officer. They are accused of fraudulently collecting tens of thousands in disability benefits. In fact, one retired cop is accused of illegally raking in $395,000 in government money, according to the indictment.

The defendants held their heads down as they were led into court to face the charges. These are the latest defendants in more than 100 people who have been rounded up since January in what Vance is calling one of the biggest disability scams in history.

All of the defendants pleaded not guilty.

Fox 5 spoke with one defense attorney outside court who said his two clients dispute the charges and have been seeing doctors for a long time.

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