A Huntington man who allegedly collected more than $200,000 in fraudulent disability benefits from the Social Security Administration was arrested and charged with second-degree grand larceny, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday.
Anthony Ragusa, 50, told the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance that he was so seriously injured while working as an electrician in 2013 that he was unable to work or perform daily activities. While collecting disability benefits, Ragusa operated a New Hyde Park limousine company and posted photos and videos on social media showing him lifting heavy weights, James said.
"Disability benefits exist to help those who need a safety net when their bodies cannot fulfill day-to-day obligations," James said. "While cheating the state out of thousands of dollars, Anthony Ragusa was simultaneously running a business and posing for pictures of his bodybuilding on the internet."
Prosecutors say Ragusa said when he applied for disability benefits in 2013 that his injuries from a fall that year made it difficult for him to bend over to put on shoes, walk for more than 15 minutes, or sit for more than 30 minutes. Ragusa also stated that the pain from his injuries prevented him from working in any capacity.
Documents from the state Department of Transportation and minutes from a town hearing from 2012, however, indicated that Ragusa was the president and owner of White Star Limousines in New Hyde Park.
Video and photos posted on his Instagram account show that Ragusa began competing as a bodybuilder in 2017.
In hearings and written reports between January 2015 and 2020, Ragusa continued to say he should be eligible for disability despite continuing to run a business and lifting weights.
Ragusa was arraigned in Suffolk County Court Thursday on one count of second-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.