New Jersey Man Convicted Of Largest-Ever Fraud On 9/11 Fund – US Attorney

MICHAEL J. GARCIA, United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced today that MARIO
MASTELLONE, 42, of East Windsor, New Jersey, was sentenced to a
term of 30 months in prison for fraudulently receiving $1,076,789
from the United States Department of Justice September 11 Victim
Compensation Fund of 2001 (“September 11th Fund”). MASTELLONE
received the money based on false claims that he had not worked
since September 11, 2001, and that he was totally and permanently
disabled by that day’s attacks on the United States. Measured by
the total amount of money he obtained, MASTELLONE’s is the
largest fraud ever perpetrated against the September 11th Fund.
The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge VICTOR
MARRERO, in Manhattan federal court. According to documents
filed in this case and statements made during MASTELLONE’s guilty
plea proceeding:

The September 11th Fund was set up in the wake of the
terrorist attacks of 9/11 to compensate people who were
physically injured in the attacks, and was administered by the
United States Department of Justice.

The evidence submitted to the Court in connection with
sentencing included excerpts from a 2002 wedding video that
showed MASTELLONE vigorously dancing the limbo and carrying a
woman on his back, as well as excerpts from a video recording
that was made by placing a camera atop a pole near MASTELLONE’s
house. The pole camera recorded MASTELLONE’s activities over the
course of approximately thirty days during 2005, and showed
MASTELLONE engaged in normal daily activities — such as washing
his car, carrying bags, moving garbage cans to the curb, and
shoveling snow — that were inconsistent with MASTELLONE’s
contention that he was totally and permanently disabled. The
evidence submitted to the Court also demonstrated that
MASTELLONE, a painter, had worked after 9/11.

Among other things, the Government submitted photographs that showed
MASTELLONE emerging from a paint store carrying a heavy drum of
paint, and a check, made out to MASTELLONE’s wife, that was
payment for MASTELLONE’s post-9/11 painting of his chiropractor’s
office. The evidence submitted to the Court also demonstrated
that MASTELLONE did not tell the doctors who examined him after
9/11 that he had been injured years prior to 9/11 in a car
accident as a result of which he was diagnosed as “disabled,”
based on damage to the same lumbar disks that MASTELLONE later
claimed he injured on 9/11.

In addition to the prison term, Judge MARRERO sentenced
MASTELLONE to 3 years of supervised release, and ordered him to
pay $100,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine. In sentencing
MASTELLONE, Judge MARRERO stated that Mastellone “exploited and
capitalized on” the tragic events of September 11, and that only
a few people, including MARIO MASTELLONE, saw 9/11 as an
“opportunity to use human suffering as a license to steal.”
Mr. GARCIA thanked the Department of Justice Office of
the Inspector General for their investigation of this case.
Assistant United States Attorneys MICHAEL FARBIARZ and JENNA
M. DABBS are in charge of the prosecution.

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