TRINITY, Fla. - A large-scale investigation shows that some retired police and firefighters hailed as heroes following the September 11th attacks may have reported mental problems to get thousands of dollars in Social Security.
Louis Hurtado, a retired New York City police officer who lives in Odessa and operates VIP Karate, was arrested on a warrant out of New York and is now in jail on charges of Grand Larceny. Hurtado is one of hundreds of former New York City workers, including 72 police and 8 firefighters, charged in a large scale investigation into disability fraud.
He was arrested at his home in the upscale Champions Club neighborhood of Trinity by Pasco County Sheriff's deputies who were contacted by the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Marshals to serve the warrant.
"This is New York's case, we know they have a big investigation going on and we'll assist as much as we can," said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
Investigators said those arrested claimed they couldn't work at all because of serious mental health problems, some as a result of the September 11th attacks. Yet, many of them continued to lead normal, active lives, including Hurtado, who taught mixed martial arts to adults and children.
ABC News reports the prosecution has recorded phone calls of the suspects being coached on how to behave in front of a medical board. They also have photos of the suspects doing vigorous activity like jet skiing and going on cruises after convincing doctors they were unable to leave their homes.
The investigation goes back two decades with some of the claims dating back to before 9/11. Some of the payouts went as high as $500,000.
Hurtado is being held without bond and will be extradited to New York.