A former NYPD Sergeant faces Federal fraud and identity-theft charges for lying about the time she spent on recovery efforts after the 9/11 attacks.
Sally Spinosa, 55, was charged Jan. 7 in Manhattan Federal Court with two counts of making false claims for monetary awards and medical benefits and one count of aggravated identity theft, the office of acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said. She surrendered earlier in the day Thursday.
'Little to No Time'
Ms. Spinosa, of Freehold, N.J., a 33-year cop who left the NYPD in 2019, was a Sergeant in the investigations unit of the Patrol Services Bureau of Staten Island at the time of the attacks.
Following the creation by Congress of two benefit programs providing compensation and medical treatment for victims of the attacks, she claimed to have spent hundreds of hours, including 62 days in a row, from Sept. 20, 2001 through June 2002, in the recovery efforts at Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island.
In fact, the cop “spent little to no time at the Landfill,” according to prosecutors.
Still, she submitted documentation, including a fraudulent affidavit purportedly signed by a supervisor, to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which distributes funds to those who either became ill or died as a result of either the terror attacks or by debris removal and recovery efforts, and the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides monitoring and medical benefits for people who have or might develop adverse health conditions attributable to exposure at disaster or recovery sites tied to the terror attacks.
Ms. Spinosa was denied VCF benefits but received WTCHP assistance, including for medical visits and prescription drugs, prosecutors said.
The 19-page complaint notes that Ms. Spinosa had been “placed on limited duty” starting in August 2001 through Christmas of that year because she was pregnant, according to the complaint. While on leave and not working, she gave birth to a child in early February 2002.
“Nevertheless, and based on her false and fraudulent misrepresentations, in or around 2017 the WTCHP granted her benefits,” prosecutors said.
While she was denied VCF funds in 2014, she twice reapplied, “relying on the same false and fraudulent information,” they said. Her VCF claim is pending.
“As alleged, former NYPD Sergeant Sally Spinosa exploited her position by brazenly—and falsely—claiming to have worked hundreds of hours in the recovery effort,” Ms. Strauss said in a statement. "When law-enforcement officers break the laws they are sworn to uphold, they do a disservice to their fellow officers, to the departments that employ them, and to the public they serve.”
If convicted, the former cop would face a maximum of 20 years in prison on the wire-fraud charge, five years on the false-claims count and a mandatory two years on the identity-theft count.
Among other things, the Patrol Services Bureau to which Sergeant Spinosa was assigned investigates violations of rules and protocols by NYPD officers.