Port Authority Police Officer Arrested For Mail Fraud
Officer Faked Injury To Obtain Insurance Payments; Videos And Photos Of Officer’s Performances In Punk Rock Band Evidence Of Fraud
A criminal complaint was unsealed this morning in Brooklyn federal court charging Port Authority Police Officer Christopher Inserra, a five-year veteran of the Port Authority Police Department (“PAPD”), with mail fraud in connection with his scheme to defraud American Family Life Assurance Company of New York (“AFLAC”) by falsely claiming that he had suffered a debilitating work-related injury to his right arm.1 In furtherance of the scheme, Inserra lied to Port Authority medical staff (“PAMS”), falsely claiming that he suffered from excruciating pain and, at times, loss of mobility to his right arm. As a result, Inserra was classified by the PAPD as injured on duty (“IOD”) and out sick with full pay for nearly two years, from June 1, 2010 until his return to full duty in March 2012. During this time period, Inserra fraudulently filed two claims with AFLAC for short-term disability payments, based upon his alleged inability to return to work. AFLAC approved the claims and mailed two checks to Inserra totaling $31,486.66. Christopher Inserra is scheduled to be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the U. S. Courthouse, Brooklyn, New York.
The arrest was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Keith E. Milke, Acting Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York, and Robert Van Etten, Inspector General for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
As alleged in the complaint, beginning on June 1, 2010 and continuing until his return to duty in March 2012, Inserra repeatedly and falsely claimed to medical personnel that, while on duty, he suffered a debilitating injury to the lower bicep and elbow region of his right arm. Inserra further falsely claimed that the injury caused him excruciating pain and difficulty moving his right arm.
As alleged in the complaint, during the same time when Inserra was classified as IOD and collecting disability payments from AFLAC, he performed as the lead singer of a Brooklyn based “punk rock” group originally named “At The End Of The World,” and later renamed “Cousin Sleaze.”2 In photographs and video footage of his band’s numerous performances during this time period, Inserra frequently moved his right arm in a violent back and forth manner inconsistent with the severe level of pain and loss of mobility that Inserra had falsely reported to medical personnel.
For example, as alleged in the complaint, in September 2011, some fifteen months after falsely claiming that he was severely injured, and while still classified as IOD, Inserra told treating medical personnel, in substance, that he continued to be in constant pain, had difficulty using his right hand, and could not fully bend his right arm at the elbow. Inserra also claimed, in substance, that his pain level was an eight (8) on a scale of one (1) to ten (10), with ten (10) representing the highest level of pain.
However, during that same month, Cousin Sleaze embarked on a tour entitled the “Miles of Mayhem Tour,” in which they performed at multiple venues spread across the mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States. Law enforcement agents located and downloaded multiple photographs and video footage of Cousin Sleaze’s performances at the Sidebar Tavern in Baltimore, Maryland on September 21, 2011, the Coffeehouse in Murfreesboro, North Carolina on September 22, 2011, the Burro Bar in Jacksonville, Florida on September 23, 2011, the Surfer’s Pub in Cocoa Beach, Florida on September 24, 2011, and the Caledonia Lounge in Athens, Georgia on September 26, 2011.3 In the photographs and video footage, Inserra was observed holding a microphone in his right hand; extending his right arm out; curling his right arm back and forth; repeatedly bending his right arm at a ninety degree angle; and violently flailing and thrashing his right arm in an up and down and back and forth fashion. Notably, one of the PAMS medical personnel who had examined Inserra on multiple occasions during the course of his claimed injury reviewed the videotaped footage of the “Miles of Mayhem Tour” and concluded that the movements that Inserra performed with his right arm were inconsistent with Inserra’s stated medical complaints.
“As alleged in the complaint, this officer dishonored himself and his department by sliding down the slippery slope of deception and fraud. This prosecution demonstrates that such a violation of the public’s trust will not be tolerated,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the USPIS and the PANYNJ OIG, the agencies responsible for leading the government’s investigation.
Inspector General Van Etten stated “I commend United States Attorney Loretta Lynch and her staff for bringing this prosecution resulting in today’s arrest of a Port Authority Police Officer, who stands accused of violating his solemn oath of office to protect the public. As alleged in the complaint, for more than two years, Officer Inserra lied to medical staff and his fellow police officers at the Port Authority claiming he had a painful and debilitating work-related injury, while performing in a punk rock band and fraudulently collecting short-term disability payments from an insurance policy. Such conduct undermines the dedicated and hard-working officers who put their lives on the line each day. Thanks to our colleagues at the US Postal Inspection Service for their participation in this investigation. The Office of the Inspector General will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute all those Port Authority employees, including police officers, who engage in deceptive and fraudulent conduct.”
The complaint charges Inserra with mail fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert L. Capers.
3 Some of the video footage obtained during the course of this investigation was downloaded from http://www.YouTube.com/user/cousinsleaze . Many of the photographs of performances by Cousin Sleaze were downloaded from various Facebook sites that contained photo footage from those performances.