Area Person Indicted in Alleged 9/11 Fraud Scheme
More than 100 retired police and firefighters were indicted this week in New York accused of using the 9/11 attacks to scam the social security system.
The indictment includes one person who now lives in Lackawanna County.
The New York County District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, said these people used the 9/11 attacks as a way to make a profit. They are accused of saying they had psychological problems following the attacks. Problems that turned out to be a fraud.
The alleged scheme went on for more than a decade, cost the federal government tens of millions of dollars, and was far-reaching. One of the people named in the indictment lives in Roaring Brook Township in Lackawanna County.
Prosecutors in New York started by arresting a few dozen retired New York City Police Officers, firefighters, and an attorney this week.
In total, 106 people, mostly first responders, are wrapped up in the indictment. They are accused of taking more than $20 million in Social Security benefits they didn’t deserve.
One of those names is Ninfa Brunetto. The name comes back to an address in Roaring Brook Township. Brunetto is charged with grand larceny, accused of taking almost $200,000 in undeserved benefits.
Newswatch 16 stopped by Brunetto’s home near Moscow on Thursday. A woman answered the door and said the Brunetto family was not home. She wouldn’t tell Newswatch 16 if the person listed in the indictment was a police officer or firefighter.
The New York County D.A. said all the retired first responders listed in the indictment claimed they had psychological problems after 9/11, problems that turned out to be a fraud.
Another local person knows all to well the psychological effects of 9/11. Kevin Moran of Scranton lost his brother Jerry in The Pentagon that day, his daughter made it out of the World Trade Center. Moran said he was appalled when he heard about the indictment.
“And for it to be local, it hurts even more, because you wouldn’t expect it to come out this far,” Moran said.
Newswatch 16 also spoke with people in Lackawanna County who volunteer their time and money to remember the first responders who died on 9/11. Charlie Spano helped to construct a 9/11 memorial in Scranton.
“Those who filed these false claim have really torn up the integrity of their comrades who died on 9/11. It’s deeply saddening that someone could be motivated to do that,” Spano said.
The New York County D.A. charged four ring leaders in the scheme who investigators said taught other people how to get fraudulent Social Security applications passed. The police and firefighters wrapped up in the scheme are charged with grand larceny and criminal facilitation.