From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York:
ALBANY, NEW YORK – John W. Caltabiano, Jr., age 49, of Catskill, New York, was sentenced today to serve 57 months in prison after a jury found him guilty in October of fraudulently obtaining federal and state disability benefits. He was immediately taken into custody.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Edward J. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge for the Social Security Administration ("SSA") Office of the Inspector General.
On October 16, 2015, following a two-week trial, a jury found Caltabiano and co-defendant Colleen McCarten guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud, and theft of government property. Between April 2008 and October 2010, Caltabiano and McCarten conspired to steal Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation benefits by falsely representing to the SSA, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, and Travelers Insurance that an on-the-job injury had left him almost completely blind. In reality, as demonstrated in videos taken during the investigation and presented at trial, he was able to drive, shop, go to the gym, and otherwise move about without the assistance that a blind person would need.
At the sentencing, Judge D’Agostino said, "And had he not been caught, I have no doubt that Mr. Caltabiano would still have someone leading him into any proceedings or any hearings as though he couldn’t see a darn thing when we all know that he was seeing well enough to carry out his ordinary activities, to drive, to go to convenience stores, all of that."
U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian stated: "If Caltabiano had not been stopped, he would have been able to steal more than one-half a million dollars based on his life expectancy. His sentence reflects the magnitude of his fraud and sends a message that those who steal benefits face significant prison sentences. My office will continue to prosecute benefits fraud aggressively so that that taxpayer-funded government benefits go to people who truly need them."
Edward J. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge for the SSA Office of the Inspector General, stated: "As guardians of the public trust we vigorously pursue incidents of fraud against SSA programs. We continue to investigate allegations of fraudulent disability claims to combat fraud in federal and state government sponsored disability programs. Our successful criminal prosecutions protect the SSA trust funds for those who truly deserve disability benefits. Our office greatly appreciates the continued support and the priority given to these cases by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York."
United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino also sentenced Caltabiano to serve 3 years of post-imprisonment supervised release, and to pay $27,784 in restitution to the SSA. At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge D’Agostino described his criminal history as "extremely disturbing." She referred to Caltabiano’s many prior convictions, four of which involved his sexual assault or attempted abduction of teenage girls.
McCarten’s sentencing is scheduled for April 20, 2016 in Albany before Judge D’Agostino.
This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Fraud Inspector General, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey C. Coffman and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason W. White.