A former Nassau County police officer and two other ex-cops filed a Manhattan federal court malicious prosecution lawsuit Wednesday against the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for wrongly charging them with disability fraud in a 2014 roundup of retired police and firefighters.
Philip Blessinger, 66, of Martin, Florida, a Nassau cop from 1972 to 1991 who rose to the rank of sergeant, said in the suit that he had a legitimate disability but was accused because he innocently associated with and took legal advice from the ringleaders of a massive fraud ring busted by Vance’s office in 2014.
The lawsuit said he retired with both physical and emotional disabilities from being hit in the line of duty by a stolen car and responding to the 1990 Avianca plane crash, but prosecutors never investigated the facts of his disability before charging him along with more than 100 others.
Lawyer Jacob Weinstein, whose suit made similar claims on behalf of former NYPD officers Scott Greco and John Byrne, said the district attorney violated Blessinger’s civil rights by leaving him under a shadow for nearly three years before dismissing the charges.
“Had an investigation been properly done, these guys would not have been indicted,” Weinstein said.
Vance’s office declined to comment on the suit. In a news release last year, the Manhattan district attorney said the ringleaders and most of those charged in 2014 had pleaded guilty or been convicted.