LONG ISLAND (PIX11)– A Long Island man has admitted to fraudulently collecting more than $200,000 in disability benefits while he was training to be a bodybuilder, officials said Tuesday.
Anthony Ragusa, 52, pleaded guilty to felony grand larceny after taking the payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) from 2013-2020, according to a release from Attorney General Letitia James.
During those seven years, Ragusa claimed he was unable to perform basic tasks, like tying his shoes, when he was injured in a fall while working as an electrician. But the defendant was running a business, WhiteStar Limousine, and was training to become a bodybuilder during that time, officials said.
Authorities caught Ragusa by scanning his wife’s Instagram account, which showed him lifting heavy weights and training for bodybuilding competitions, often at Bev Francis gym, known as “The Mecca” for bodybuilders, authorities said.
As part of the plea, Ragusa will pay $200,000 in restitution to SSA and will be on probation for five years. If the defendant fails to complete his restitution by his sentencing date, he will face one to three years in prison, officials said.
“Anthony Ragusa swindled taxpayers by claiming the benefits for himself, but was caught in his fraudulent scheme when his wife posted bodybuilding photos of him online,” James said in the release. “His illegal and shameful actions are an insult to those who actually live with disabilities, and I will always take action to bring fraudsters like Ragusa to justice on behalf of the people.”