If You Retire on Disability, Don't Get Caught Practicing Jiu-Jitsu
In 2010, after claiming to be disabled, Catalano was taped taking a fourth-degree black belt test in jiu-jitsu. In the video he can be seen punching, kicking, and "sparring," a rolling move used to take down opponents (demonstrated here by Chuck Norris, never a poster boy for disability). While there's something to be said for following your dream well into retirement age, you might want to keep that sort of thing on the down-low if you just retired on a disability pension, and that dream involves choking people with your feet.
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Catalano, of Nesconset, was accused of conspiring with hundreds of other retirees to make phony claims to the federal Railroad Retirement Board. At 37 months, his sentence is the longest yet delivered to an ex-employee convicted of filing a false claim. "Mr. Catalano was not driven to commit the fraud out of financial difficulty at all," U.S District Judge Kimba Wood, who sentenced Catalano, told Newsday. She described the scam as "breathtaking in scope."
Catalano, who also participated in a jiu-jitsu demonstration at the Pentagon after claiming to be disabled, said that the martial art isn't as physically taxing as it might appear. In fact, Catalano told the New York Post, he's able to enjoy the sport despite what he describes as "severe disc degeneration."
Disability fraud, which costs taxpayers more than $10 billion each year and siphons support from citizens with real, demonstrated needs, can be challenging to detect. How do you prove that someone who claims to suffer from chronic pain, for instance, is actually capable of work? Even if the alleged sufferer is seen engaging in a work-like activity, it could still be challenging for them to hold a job.
Still, there's a difference between "work-like activity" and slamming a huge dude on a gym mat. "I think [Wood] should have given me home confinement or probation. I'm not a threat to society," Catalano told Newsday. Let's hear him say that the next time he tries to put somebody in a spine-lock.
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