When policemen or firemen get seriously injured on the job, they deserve every penny of the disability pension they receive. But the I-squad found some government employees retiring early with some very questionable injuries.
“Are you faking your disability,” INSIDE EDITION’S Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero asked former NJ police officer Joseph Derrico.
Derrico, who says he's completely disabled from injuries he suffered on the job and can't work anymore, walked away from Guerrero without saying a word.
You may be surprised to learn that after retiring on a full pension, Derrico worked as a repo-man on a TV reality show Bear Swamp Recovery, which aired on the cable network TrueTV.
He sure didn’t look disabled in one scene where he climbed into a truck with ease and threw a guy to the ground, all while collecting almost $70,000 a year in a disability pension, tax free.
INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero asked Derrico, “How are you on a reality show if you are disabled?”
Derrico had nothing to say.
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The INSIDE EDITION I-Squad found many government employees enjoying the good life, while living on disability benefits paid for by you, the taxpayer. Last month, 80 New York City police and firemen were charged with grand larceny for allegedly faking injuries that many of them said were caused by the 9/11 terrorist attack.
An INSIDE EDITION investigation found other examples of ex-fire and law enforcement officers who appear to be gaming the system.
Timothy Carrol is a former Crime Scene Investigator with the Morris County Sheriff's Office in New Jersey, just like the ones you see on CSI.
He claims he was so traumatized by gruesome crime scenes, he can no longer work as a cop. So he applied for, and received, a disability pension for life. So, what did he do after retiring? Incredibly, he started a crime scene cleanup business.
And then there's 34-year-old New Jersey cop Christopher Onesti. He also claimed to be permanently disabled. His tax free pension could wind up costing taxpayers more than $2 million.
So how did he get disabled? He wasn't shot or hurt while arresting a criminal. Turns out he accidentally stapled his left ring finger at a firing range. He and his doctors say the injury prevents him from shooting a gun and performing other police duties.
Onesti recently posted a video of himself shooting his gun at a firing range. It sure didn’t look like he has any problem firing a weapon.
Guerrero met Onsesti on the street after he wouldn’t return Inside Editions calls. “Hi, I'm Lisa Guerrero with INSIDE EDITION. Aren't these disability pensions for officers who have been injured in the line of duty, not for someone who accidentally stables their finger?” asked Guerrero.
“I'm following the law, I didn't make the law, just like you follow your bosses rules, what else do you want me to do,” he said.
Guerrero asked, “Can I see your finger?”
Onesti responded, “No, I'm not going to do that.”
“That has to be the most expensive staples in history,” said Mark Lagerkvist, an investigative reporter in New Jersey. “What you are seeing here is ridiculous. These three people got caught because they were stupid, think of all the smart people who are getting away with it.”
The New Jersey Retirement system has asked to have Christopher Onesti, the guy who stapled his finger, re-evaluated to see if he is fit for duty. The officer on that repo reality show had his pension revoked but is appealing that decision and that traumatized Crime Scene Investigator has since closed his crime scene cleanup business but is still receiving his tax free pension.