What a Way to End a Career

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Most people work hard and save money in hopes that they will live a comfortable lifestyle following their retirement. (After all, the golden years are supposed to be spent enjoying favorite hobbies, travelling and spending time with love ones, right?) An article published in Newsday tells the story of a retired lawyer, whose plans have been interrupted by the possibility of a short stay in prison. (What a way to end a career.)

The article states that the 84-year-old Long Island attorney was considered to be one of four masterminds in a $400 million disability scam that coached retired police officers and firefighters how to fake mental illnesses in order to collect disability checks from the Social Security Administration (SSA). (Supposedly, the applicants were encouraged to avoid eye contact with interviewers and report sleep problems. That sounds pretty simple.) The disability applicants used the man’s law firm to submit the benefits claims.

The scam was busted after someone questioned how a retired police officer could be qualified to possess a gun, but also qualify for mental disability benefits. (That’s a very good point.)

The lawyer, who was once an FBI agent, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree conspiracy and in exchange for his cooperation, he may only serve one year in jail for his part. (Apparently, he did not personally coach the applicants in how to deceive the Social Security Administration; however, he did know something was not right and did not report his suspicions.) He will have to pay $2 million in restitution in fines. (Well, at least he didn’t get off too easy.)

The story states that prosecutors estimate that as many as 1,000 ineligible retirees used the scam to steal between $30,000 and $50,000 a year in benefits they did not deserve.So far, more than 100 ineligible applicants have pleaded guilty to felony charges and remitted $24 million.

Perhaps the former lawyer will be helpful in assisting the government with recouping the SSA’s losses and in exchange for his help, he will avoid the one-year prison sentence.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”LI Lawyer, Former FBI Agent, Pleads Guilty to Role in Mental Disability Scam,” written by Ellen Yan and published by Newsday on March 2, 2015.

A Long Island attorney charged as one of four masterminds in a $400 million disability scam has pleaded guilty in a deal that would get him a year in jail in return for his cooperation in the case, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

Raymond LaVallee, 84, of Massapequa, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree conspiracy Friday and will have to make $2 million in restitution and fines, authorities said. LaVallee, once an FBI agent and chief of the Nassau district attorney’s rackets bureau, had faced up to 25 years in prison on the top charge, first-degree larceny.

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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.