Grappling with Fraud

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Part of the intrigue of a wrestling match or martial arts competition is watching opponents grapple. Just like in combat sports, where there are a few tried and true methods for getting an adversary in a vulnerable position for the ”take down,” the government also knows how to out-maneuver fraudsters. According to the Long Island Newsday, a supposedly disabled Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) worker lost his grappling match with the government after being caught on tape practicing jiujitsu.

The story reports that the retired maintenance foreman was one of five defendants charged in an alleged scam involving 33 workers, who filed false disability claims against the LIRR. Unfortunately for him, the man was videotaped performing some physically demanding moves that someone claiming to be disabled from back, neck and shoulder pain may have trouble doing. (Probably some able-bodied people would have difficulty performing jiujitsu moves.)

The 52-year-old testified that even though he was occasionally disabled by pain, he sometimes felt like practicing jiujitsu. (If disabled, why not swim or do water aerobics?) The judge apparently didn’t buy his story and handed him a 37-month sentence, the longest given to an ex-LIRR worker convicted of filing a false claim. The fraudster was not happy with the prison term and complained that he should have received a sentence of home confinement with probation. (Sometimes you get what you get and you don’t get upset. It could have been worse.) He also was ordered to pay back $62,000 to the Railroad Retirement Board.

Perhaps jiujitsu will come in handy for this retiree while serving out his time in prison. If the fraudster comes across a fellow prisoner who is bigger than him, he can always go for the knees and try to knock them down. If a rugby tackle doesn’t work, he could also try a head butt to the chest. (I’m just guessing…I’m not an expert at jiujitsu.) However, with that back, neck and shoulder pain, it might be difficult to pin an opponent to the ground and declare victory. The only winner in this fraud grappling match is the government.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Ex-LIRR Worker Fred Catalano Gets 37 Months for Disability Fraud,” written by John Riley and published by Long Island Newsday on March 5, 2014.

Former Long Island Rail Road worker Fred Catalano, a maintenance foreman who was videotaped practicing jiujitsu after retiring on disability, was sentenced Wednesday to 37 months in prison for defrauding the government.

Catalano, 52, of Nesconset, was one of only five defendants of 33 charged in the LIRR disability scam who went to trial. His 37-month sentence was the longest yet handed out to an ex-worker convicted of filing a false claim.

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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.