A bodybuilder from New York who fraudulently collected disability benefits was busted after he was caught lifting weights on his wife’s Instagram account.
Anthony Ragusa, age 52, formerly of Long Island, admitted to illegally collecting more than $200,000 in benefits from the Social Security Administration, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.
He pleaded guilty in Suffolk County Court Tuesday, June 14, to one count of second-degree grand larceny, a felony.
Ragusa first applied for disability benefits in 2013 after claiming that a fall at work had left him so injured he could barely bend over to put his shoes on, prosecutors said.
He claimed he couldn’t walk for more than 15 minutes or sit for more than 30 minutes at a time and was unable to work in any capacity.
But those claims were called into question beginning in 2017, when Ragusa was seen lifting heavy weights and training for bodybuilding competitions in photos and videos posted on an Instagram account belonging to his wife, prosecutors said.
In one video, he was spotted working out at Bev Francis gym in Syosset, which prosecutors described as “the mecca” for bodybuilders.
Investigators said Ragusa continued working as the president and owner of White Star Limousine Company in New Hyde Park between 2015 and 2020, despite still claiming disability benefits from the state.
“Disability benefits are a vital necessity for the New Yorkers who rely on those resources to help them live their lives,” said Attorney General James.
“Anthony Ragusa swindled taxpayers by claiming the benefits for himself, but was caught in his fraudulent scheme when his wife posted bodybuilding photos of him online. His illegal and shameful actions are an insult to those who actually live with disabilities, and I will always take action to bring fraudsters like Ragusa to justice on behalf of the people.”
Following his guilty plea, Ragusa was ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and complete five years of probation.
If he fails to meet those requirements, he could spend up to three years in prison.
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