Pasco man accused of disability fraud - WFLA News Channel 8

Pasco man accused of disability fraud

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Louis Hurtado Louis Hurtado
Louis Hurtado, a former New York City Police officer and Martial Arts instructor in Odessa, is one of 100 people accused of disability fraud.

Detectives say retired NYPD officers and firefighters are cashing in on fraudulent disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder because of the September 11 terror attacks.

Pasco County deputies arrested Hurtado Tuesday. He's being held in the Pasco County Jail and will be sent back to New York.

Authorities say the scam spanned more than two decades and police officers and firefighters were coached on what to say in doctor offices to get full disability benefits. Some were getting up to $50,000 because they claimed they couldn't work.

"This fraud not only forced federal taxpayers to finance the lifestyles of New York scammers, it also took away, importantly, the already limited resources we have for people who actually suffered from psychiatric disabilities," said Cy run Vance, Manhattan District Attorney. "That includes, of course, the brave first responders who ran toward the fires on September 11th, and who now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder."

At his first appearance, Hurtado told the judge he had the means to hire his own attorney, and did not with the court to appoint one. He also said he would not fight extradition back to New York.

Hurtado owns the VIP Black Belt Champions Training Center in Odessa. He's smiling on their website that says he's "trained black belts."

Two years ago, he teamed up with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office to offer domestic violence defense training to women. Sheriff Chris Nocco says his office had no reason to believe there were any skeletons in his closet.

"We knew he was former law enforcement. We knew there were a lot of people in the community who used vip karate, but at the same time, we don't check people's benefits, we don't know if they're on disability, we just knew we had somebody who taught karate and did a great class for us," said Nocco.


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