Black Belt in Justice

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Jiu jitsu is a martial art that requires a great deal of physical strength to outsmart and disable an opponent. (So one would reason that if a person claimed they were disabled, the chances for participating in a martial arts competition would be nil.)A story published in the Courier-Post tells about an award-winning martial arts competitor who lied about his physical condition in order to steal more than $82,000 in disability benefits he did not deserve. (He not only lied about his disability, but appealed his case in order to receive even more benefits he was not eligible to receive. I call that brazen.)

The story states that the former firefighter initially applied for a disability pension claiming he could not participate in physical activity because of two accidents related to firetrucks. As a result, he received an ordinary disability pension that paid 40 percent of his former salary, but he was required to pay taxes on that amount. Unsatisfied with the disability payments he was receiving, he appealed to the retirement board for accidental disability, which pays two-thirds of a recipient’s former salary and is not taxed. (Can you see where this is going?)

In the meantime, the martial arts aficionado was collecting disability benefits while earning his black belt in jiu jitsu and working as an instructor at a martial arts academy. And that’s not all. A social media site documented his participation in a competitive martial arts tournament where he was a bronze medal winner. (Fraudsters often become overconfident and post incriminating evidence online, forgetting that that law enforcement frequently uses social media to conduct investigations.) A physician’s exam revealed that he was disabled, but the injuries were a result of a pre-existing condition, not a work-related accident. (And obviously not bad enough to keep him from doing jiu jitsu.)

The 41-year-old man was convicted of theft by deception and barred from public employment in New Jersey. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay full restitution of $82,488 – the amount he illegally collected in disability benefits.

The intent of jiu jitsu is to defend oneself using the strength and weight of the adversary to disable. The fraudster in this case turned out to be a lightweight. (That should qualify the federal government to receive a black belt in justice.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Firefighter sentenced for pension fraud,” published by the Courier-Post July 1, 2016.

CAMDEN – A former firefighter received a seven-year prison term Friday for stealing more than $82,000 by fraudulently collecting a disability pension.

Shane B. Streater, 41, of Camden took part in mixed martial arts competitions and taught jiu jitsu while collecting the pension from the state Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, authorities said.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.