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Malicious Prosecution Could Threaten Disability Benefits

Posted by Gregory Paul | Feb 01, 2017 | 0 Comments

When workers are unable to work due to a debilitating illness or disease, they may be left without a way to earn a living. For workers who have long-term disability insurance through their job, disability benefits will enable them to take care of themselves and their families during the time they are disabled. Individual's without insurance may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Unfortunately, the problem of disability fraud impacts people with legitimate disabilities, as well as those trying to take advantage of the system. When prosecutors go after disability fraud, they may end up forcing innocent people to lose their disability benefits. A number of former city workers have sued a district attorney for malicious prosecution after losing their disability benefits.

Four former New York City and Nassau County Police Department officers have filed malicious prosecution lawsuits against the Manhattan District Attorney. The former officers allege the prosecutor was so caught up in going after disability fraud, that the four officers were accused of fraud and lost their disability benefits. The officers claimed that any investigation would have have shown they were not involved in the fraud.

In 2014, Manhattan DA Cy Vance's office went after over 100 former city workers, including 80 New York Police and Fire Department employees for disability fraud. According to authorities, over 100 individuals had been involved in trying to defraud the public through fake Social Security insurance claims. The allegations included charges of faking mental illness related to the 9/11-attacks.

However, the DA eventually dropped fraud charges against four individuals, including former NYPD officer Darlene Ilchert. Ilchert had retired in 2000, and was receiving disability benefits as she was unable to work. However, as a result of the criminal charges, Ilchert lost her disability benefits and her legal defense added up to hundreds of thousands in legal fees.

According to Ilchert's lawsuit, Vance's office was so caught-up in the publicity of the large fraud ring that they, “knowingly and willfully ignored and overlooked the actual innocence of the Mrs. Ilchert.”

Three other former police officers found themselves in a similar situation. Philip Blessinger, Scott Greco, and John Byrne were all charged with grand larceny and criminal facilitation. The DA's office dropped the charges but had the former cops sign a waiver limiting the DA's liability in order to release their frozen assets.

According to their lawsuit, “had any proper investigation been conducted, plaintiffs would never have been indicted.” Instead, the three were improperly associated with the “bad apples.”

Criminal charges for disability fraud could result in lost benefits, even if prosecutors later drop the charges. This may leave an innocent, disabled individual without any benefits. If your disability benefits have been denied or discontinued for any reason, talk to an experienced attorney about your rights.

Greg Paul has years of experience fighting for his clients to make sure they get the disability benefits they deserve. We represent individuals and families who have been denied benefits by their insurance company or plan administrator. You have a limited time to appeal your disability denial, so do not delay. If you have been denied short-term or long-term disability benefits, contact our office for a free consultation.

About the Author

Gregory Paul

Gregory G. Paul is a trial lawyer who practices in the areas of disability, employment and toxic tort injury law. He is admitted to practice law in California, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia with additional admissions in federal courts nationwide. Greg is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento where he was on the Dean's List and Law Review.  He is a graduate of Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College.                        In addition to litigating cases on behalf of people denied benefits and rights, Greg has been a speaker at PBI: Employment Law West: Americans With Disabilities Act , Pittsburgh, PA (2012-2015); National Employment Lawyers Association: Breaking Down the Barriers in the Workplace, Oakland, CA (2010); NBI: Litigating ERISA Cases, Pittsburgh, PA (2008); ADA: Fighting for Fairness, Atlanta, GA (2006) and Chicago, IL (2008). He is a member of American Association for Justice, National Employment Law Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Greg is the Vice-Chair of the National Legal Advocacy Committee for the American Diabetes Association and recipient of the ADA 2008 National Service Award for Outstanding Advocacy.  LIST OF ADMISSIONS AND BAR ASSOCIATIONS Pennsylvania, 1999 West Virginia, 1999 Maryland, 2000 California, 2004 Ohio, 2005 Texas, 2006 U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia U.S. District Court, Northern District of West Virginia U.S. District Court, District of Maryland U.S. District Court, District of Colorado U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas U.S. District Court, Northern District of California U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California U.S. District Court, Central District of California U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit Supreme Court of the United States Allegheny Bar Association Federal Bar Association American Bar Association The American Association for Justice Million Dollar Advocates Forum National Employment Lawyers Association Sonoma County Bar Association


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Litigation Experience

Greg Paul has over 20 years experience litigating in state and federal courts: 1) Fighting for long-term disability benefits against insurance companies such as Aetna, CIGNA, Guardian,Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Mutual of Omaha, Principal, Prudential, Reliance Standard, Standard, Sun Life, and Unum.