Anthony Ragusa, 50, of Huntington has been arrested on charges of fraudulently collecting more than $200,000 in disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James said Thursday that, from 2013 to 2020, Ragusa falsely represented to the New York state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance that he was unable to work and perform daily activities as a result of injuries caused by a 2013 fall.
While collecting disability benefits, and purportedly disabled, Ragusa was still the president and owner of White Star Limousine — where he continued to earn income — and an avid weightlifter, as displayed in numerous social media photos and videos showing him lifting heavy weights on the internet, the office said.
“Disability benefits exist to help those who need a safety net when their bodies cannot fulfill day-to-day obligations,” James said. “While cheating the state out of thousands of dollars, Anthony Ragusa was simultaneously running a business and posing for pictures of his bodybuilding on the internet. Fraudulently collecting these benefits was not only a shameful slap in the face to those who actually live with disabilities, but a vast waste of taxpayer dollars.”
According to the office’s filings and statements made by prosecutors, Ragusa applied for disability benefits in 2013. On the application for benefits, Ragusa represented that his injuries from a fall as an electrician were so severe that he had difficulty bending over to put on shoes, walking for more than 15 minutes, and sitting for more than 30 minutes. Ragusa also stated that the pain from his injuries prevented him from any kind of work, the office said.
Investigators reviewed documents from the state Department of Transportation and minutes from a town hearing from 2012 show that, at the time of his fall, Ragusa was the president and owner of the White Star Limousine company in New Hyde Park. Additionally, extensive video and photographic evidence from Ragusa’s wife’s Instagram account show that, beginning in 2017, Ragusa began a physical transformation into a bodybuilder.
Additionally, from January 2015 to 2020, in hearings and written reports to determine his eligibility, Ragusa maintained his eligibility despite continuing to run a business and lift weights.
Ragusa was arraigned Thursday before Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Ukeiley to one count of grand larceny in the second degree, a class “C” felony, and one count of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, a class “E” felony.