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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lawyer at Top of Huge Fraud Pleads Guilty

A Long Island lawyer who led a huge scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration pleaded guilty on Friday, receiving a reduced sentence in return for promising to help federal investigators find other people cheating the disability insurance system, prosecutors said.

The lawyer, Raymond Lavallee, entered an agreement with the Manhattan district attorney’s office to plead guilty to one count of fourth-degree conspiracy and to pay $2 million in restitution and fines.

Mr. Lavallee, 84, of Massapequa, N.Y., also agreed to cooperate with investigators at the Social Security Administration who are seeking to recover money from others who filed false claims as part of the scheme, which involved scores of retired police officers and firefighters who feigned mental illnesses to get benefits.

He faced a maximum sentence of 25 years on the top charge of grand larceny, had he gone to trial. In return for his assistance, he was promised a sentence of one year in jail by Justice Daniel P. FitzGerald in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Mr. Lavallee and three other men were charged last year with bilking the federal government out of millions in disability benefits. The scheme involved more than 131 police officers, firefighters and other city workers who falsely claimed they had been psychologically scarred. Many pretended they had suffered post-traumatic stress because of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

More than 100 of the applicants have pleaded guilty. A majority...

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