After suffering a fall on the job in 2013, Anthony Ragusa’s life changed dramatically as he filed for disability benefits, New York state prosecutors have said. Bending over to tie his shoes hurt, he found it difficult to walk for more than 15 minutes and to sit for more than 30. Working, he wrote, was out of the question.
But Ragusa’s social media footprint told a different story.
On Instagram, he was an “avid weightlifter,” prosecutors said.
And his wife’s social media posts of lifting and working out at gyms, now 52, were used in court to accuse him of fraudulently collecting more than $200,000 in benefits disability from 2015 to 2020, according to a press release from the New York Attorney General’s Office.
Ragusa pleaded guilty on June 14 before State Supreme Court Judge Anthony Senft Jr. of Suffolk County Court, according to the statement.
“Ragusa defrauded taxpayers by claiming the benefits for himself, but was caught up in his fraudulent scheme when his wife posted photos of him bodybuilding online,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. the press release.
McClatchy News was unable to reach Ragusa’s attorney.
Raguse, who is formerly of Huntington, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree grand larceny, which is a Class C felony, according to the release. He will pay $200,000 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and will be on probation for five years, the statement said.
According to the press release, in 2013 Ragusa filed for disability benefits following a fall while working as an electrician. The injury prevented him from working in any capacity, officials told Ragusa.
During his period of disability, Ragusa earned income as president and owner of a limo service, WhiteStar Limousine, and began his bodybuilding journey, officials said.
“Abundant video and photographic evidence from Ragusa’s wife’s Instagram account showed that from 2017 Ragusa began a physical transformation into a bodybuilder,” the statement read. “On the Instagram account, Ragusa could be seen lifting heavy weights and training for bodybuilding competitions, often at the Bev Francis Gym, known as ‘Mecca’ for bodybuilders.”
James first announced Ragusa’s arrest on May 20, 2021.
Huntington is about 38 miles northeast of New York.
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