Grappling with Fraud


Part of the intrigue of a wrestling match or martial arts competition is watching opponents grapple. Just like in combat sports, where there are a few tried and true methods for getting an adversary in a vulnerable position for the ”take down,” the government also knows how to out-maneuver fraudsters. According to the Long Island Newsday, a supposedly disabled Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) worker lost his grappling match with the government after being caught on tape practicing jiujitsu.

The story reports that the retired maintenance foreman was one of five defendants charged in an alleged scam involving 33 workers, who filed false disability claims against the LIRR. Unfortunately for him, the man was videotaped performing some physically demanding moves that someone claiming to be disabled from back, neck and shoulder pain may have trouble doing. (Probably some able-bodied people would have difficulty performing jiujitsu moves.)

The 52-year-old testified that even though he was occasionally disabled by pain, he sometimes felt like practicing jiujitsu. (If disabled, why not swim or do water aerobics?) The judge apparently didn’t buy his story and handed him a 37-month sentence, the longest given to an ex-LIRR worker convicted of filing a false claim. The fraudster was not happy with the prison term and complained that he should have received a sentence of home confinement with probation. (Sometimes you get what you get and you don’t get upset. It could have been worse.) He also was ordered to pay back $62,000 to the Railroad Retirement Board.

Perhaps jiujitsu will come in handy for this retiree while serving out his time in prison. If the fraudster comes across a fellow prisoner who is bigger than him, he can always go for the knees and try to knock them down. If a rugby tackle doesn’t work, he could also try a head butt to the chest. (I’m just guessing…I’m not an expert at jiujitsu.) However, with that back, neck and shoulder pain, it might be difficult to pin an opponent to the ground and declare victory. The only winner in this fraud grappling match is the government.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Ex-LIRR Worker Fred Catalano Gets 37 Months for Disability Fraud,” written by John Riley and published by Long Island Newsday on March 5, 2014.

Former Long Island Rail Road worker Fred Catalano, a maintenance foreman who was videotaped practicing jiujitsu after retiring on disability, was sentenced Wednesday to 37 months in prison for defrauding the government.

Catalano, 52, of Nesconset, was one of only five defendants of 33 charged in the LIRR disability scam who went to trial. His 37-month sentence was the longest yet handed out to an ex-worker convicted of filing a false claim.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.