NEW YORK (AP) — An accused ringleader of a sprawling disabilities fraud scheme has admitted he helped coach retired New York City police officers and others to fake mental-health problems to get Social Security benefits.
Joseph Esposito pleaded guilty Wednesday to grand larceny. If he keeps a promise to aid prosecutors, the retired police officer will be sentenced to 1 ½ to 4 ½ years in prison and $734,000 in restitution.
Defense lawyer Brian Griffin says Esposito acknowledges his actions as a disability consultant "crossed both an ethical and legal line."
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. says the decades-long scam involved more than 120 people and millions of dollars.
Esposito is among four top defendants. The other three pleaded not guilty.
Eighty-six others have admitted guilt. Prosecutors dropped charges against eight defendants.