A Scandinavia woman will be extradited to New York for her alleged involvement in what may be the largest Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) scam in history.
Catherine A. Rocanello, 47, appeared before Waupaca County Circuit Court Judge Philip Kirk Wednesday, Feb. 26.
After she waived extradition, Kirk ordered that Rocanello be delivered to New York law enforcement.
Manahattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has accused more than 130 retired New York firefighters, police officers and others of bilking hundreds of millions of dollars from the disability system.
Vance issued 106 indictments in the case in January. He charged an additional 28 suspects on Feb. 25 with second-degree grand larceny, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor.
Rocanello was among those charged on Feb. 25.
The four principal defendants in the New York case include a retired assistant district attorney, a retired police officer and a retired disability consultant for a police union. Raymond Lavallee, 83, Thomas Hale, 89, Joseph Esposito, 64, and John Minerva, 61, are accused of coaching hundreds of SSDI applicants to lie about psychiatric disorders between January 1988 to December 2013 in order to obtain benefits.
The applicants claimed they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression. Some of them blamed their symptoms on the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Many of those allegedly receiving SSDI benefits to which they were not entitled were also simultaneously receiving pension income as retired police officers and firefighters.
“Today, dozens of additional defendants have been charged with fabricating psychiatric conditions in order to fraudulently obtain Social Security Disability Insurance, a critically important social safety net reserved for those truly in need,” Vance said in a press release. “These defendants are accused of gaming the system by lying about their lifestyle, including their ability to work, drive, handle money, shop, and socialize, in order to obtain benefits to which they were not entitled. Their lies were repetitive and extensive.”