Jury: Firefighter fraudulently collected disability pension

AP News
|
Posted: Apr 12, 2016 5:56 PM

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A former firefighter accused of collecting a state disability pension while working as a martial arts instructor and participating in competitive mixed martial arts has been convicted of theft by deception.

Camden resident Shane Streater, who's 41, faces up to 10 years in prison when he's sentenced next month. The verdict was rendered Tuesday by a Camden County jury following a weeklong trial.

Streater, who had pleaded not guilty, applied for an accidental disability pension in 2009, saying he was disabled due to two on-duty accidents. In each incident he claimed to have injured his back and/or neck.

Based largely on statements from Streater regarding his inability to engage in physical activity, an independent doctor found he had a total and permanent disability. The doctor, though, concluded that his disability was from a preexisting condition and not work related.

The New Jersey Police and Firemen's Retirement System Board awarded Streater an ordinary disability pension in 2010. Streater appealed that ruling, insisting his disability was work-related and he was entitled to an accidental disability pension, which is untaxed and pays about 67 percent of the beneficiary's salary. An ordinary disability pension pays 40 percent of salary and is taxed.

State officials said they later learned Streater was teaching jiu-jitsu two or more times a week at a mixed martial arts academy. They said they also found an online video of him participating in a highly competitive tournament.

The PFRS Board revoked Streater's disability pension in 2012, but he already had collected $82,488 in benefits.