The morning the planes hit the Twin Towers, I walked from where I had been glued to the television in my kitchen and out onto my front porch. The wind blew from the inferno in lower Manhattan charred fragments of letter head, what might have been accounting forms, and the like. They landed in my driveway and on the sidewalk in front of the house, and in the street.
Weeks and then months went by and every time I drove past a funeral parlor, members of the New York Police Department and New York Fire Department were in dress uniforms for yet another funeral. The funerals seemed endless.
Workers toiled for endless hours trying first to save victims, then switching to recovery. One of my neighbors who is licensed to work with heavy equipment volunteered day-after-day at Ground Zero hoping to find the remains of his cousin. He never did. Many put their own health at risk. These are the heroes.
So, it galls me to no end when a good 100 members of the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department allegedly faked mental illnesses and psychological maladies claiming they were “traumatized” by their work at Ground Zero and then turn around and collect Social Security benefits into the hundreds of thousands of dollars each. And they say more arrests will come.
I applaud New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance for busting these criminal cops and firefighters. If they are guilty of what they’ve been charged (and it appears they are), they dishonor their uniform. They trivialize those who were truly disabled and traumatized by the terrorist attack on 9/11. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
It is said these suspects have cheated tax payer of $21.4 million dollars. I know a million doesn’t go as far as it used to, but that’s still a lot of money that belongs to the people. A 200-page indictment claims these individuals collected between $30K – $50K per year for succumbing to supposed crippling emotional ailments following the 9/11 attack, such as deep depression, post traumatic stress syndrome, severe anxiety, and the like.
As will often be the case, these guys felt untouchable and so they lived openly flamboyant lifestyles. They posted photos on Facebook of themselves living large and dashed off tweets. One of the suspects who claimed to be terrified of crowds was found selling cannolis at the St. Gennaro Festival in Little Italy which always has wall-to-wall crowds. Another was working as a martial arts instructor. The 70-year old ringleader coached them on how to come off as mental patients before hand-picked psychiatrists…this coaching, of course, was allegedly for a nice kickback.
Oh, what a web they wove. But it was a small thing that tripped them up in the end. Many of them applied for gun permits in which they stated they were mentally stable enough to carry a firearm.
Note: Photo courtesy of The Creative Commons.