Ex-officer admits helping others feign psych problems in massive NYC disability-fraud case

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NEW YORK — 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.

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