From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York:
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that GERARD SCPARTA, a former New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officer, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for fraudulently obtaining over approximately $630,000 in disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and underreporting income on his taxes by approximately $268,000. At the same time SCPARTA was fraudulently collecting disability benefits, he earned a total of approximately $1.6 million working as a security guard and host at a strip club (the “Strip Club”) located in Manhattan. SCPARTA was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan, before whom he had previously pled guilty to tax evasion and theft of government property.
Earlier this year, in a related case also involving a former NYPD police officer and New York City Fire Department (“FDNY”) firefighter, SCOTT MARAIO was sentenced to one year and one day in prison on January 23, 2019 by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein for fraudulently collecting over approximately 360,000 in Social Security benefits over a period of ten years by lying repeatedly to the SSA about his purported inability to work due to disability, when he also worked at the Strip Club and in other employment.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Gerard Scparta, a former NYPD officer, illegally collected over $630,000 in disability benefits by claiming that he could not work in any capacity due to anxiety and depression. During the very same time period, Scparta felt well enough to earn over $1.6 million working at a Manhattan strip club. Gerard Scparta perverted the Disability Insurance system for his own personal gain, depleting a system intended for people with legitimate claims who depend on those benefits for their well-being. For his reprehensible conduct, Scparta has been sentenced to federal prison and will trade velvet ropes for steel bars.”
According to documents filed in Manhattan federal court:
The SSA administers Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSD”), a federal benefits program that provides monthly cash benefits to individuals who have worked in the past and paid into Social Security, but who can no longer engage in any substantial gainful activity due to medical disabilities. SSD is a disability benefit available only to individuals who have a qualifying disability and are unable to work in any profession. In order to receive SSD, a beneficiary must certify that he or she is incapable of performing any gainful activity due to disability. In addition, a beneficiary must report to the SSA all sources of income from work activity and any changes in the beneficiary’s medical condition, which are taken into account in determining whether the beneficiary is entitled to payments and the amount of those payments.
Between in or about 1986 and in or about 1997, SCPARTA worked as a police officer with the NYPD. In or about 1997, after reportedly sustaining an injury at the age of 32, SCPARTA was referred to an individual (“CC-1”) who helped him fraudulently obtain disability benefits. Specifically, CC-1 submitted SSD application materials signed by SCPARTA that falsely stated, among other things, that SCPARTA suffered from severe depression and anxiety, could not do anything around his house, and was unable to work in any capacity. In addition, CC-1 coached SCPARTA to make the same false statements to physicians who examined SCPARTA for the purpose of establishing his disability and submitting reports to the SSA. For example, in one examination by a physician, SCPARTA pretended that he did not know where he was, could not remember the last four vice presidents, and had trouble repeating numbers that were told to him. Based on these false statements and representations by SCPARTA in documents and reports submitted to the SSA, the SSA approved SCPARTA to receive disability benefits from in or about 1997 onward.
In addition to lying about his disability status and inability to work, SCPARTA falsely claimed on multiple forms submitted to the SSA that he did not work, and failed to report earnings from employment as required. In fact, from in or about April 2004 up to and including at least in or about December 2017, SCPARTA worked as a security guard and host at the Strip Club. From in or about 1997 up to and including in or about 2017, SCPARTA received a total of over approximately $638,000 in disability benefits for himself, his wife, and his children, while at the same time SCPARTA earned approximately $1.6 million from his work at the Strip Club.
Further, from in or about 2012 up to and including in or about 2017, SCPARTA engaged in tax evasion by concealing and attempting to conceal from the IRS the nature and extent of his income. Specifically, SCARPTA utilized a nominee company registered to his wife to report income that SCPARTA earned from the Strip Club and falsely underreported that income by a total of approximately $268,602 for the tax years 2012 through 2016.
From in or about 1985 through in or about 1986, MARAIO worked as an NYPD police officer. Beginning in or about July 1987, MARAIO began working as a firefighter with the FDNY. In or about January 2002, at the age of 37, MARAIO stopped working as a firefighter due to a claimed disability, and began receiving disability benefits. On multiple forms submitted to the SSA, MARAIO falsely claimed he could not work due to problems with his neck and back and failed to report earnings from employment as required. In fact, from in or about September 2008 through in or about August 2014, MARAIO worked as a security guard at the Strip Club. In addition, from in or about July 2012 through at least in or about February 2018, MARAIO worked for a staffing company (the “Staffing Company”) in various positions relating to fire safety on construction sites, including as a fire safety manager and fireguard. From in or about October 2008 through in or about February 2018, MARAIO received a total of over approximately $364,000 in disability benefits for himself, his wife, and his children, while at the same time MARAIO earned a total of approximately $450,000 from his employment at the Strip Club and with the Staffing Company.
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In addition to his prison sentence, SCPARTA, 54, of Campbell Hall, New York, was sentenced to 3 years of supervised release and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $726,517 and to forfeit the $638,586 in Social Security disability benefits he obtained fraudulently.
MARAIO, 54, of Staten Island, New York, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $364,040.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the United States Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. Mr. Berman also thanked the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York City Department of Investigation for their assistance with the investigation.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Sagar K. Ravi is in charge of the prosecution.