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Blind Man Caught Driving Sees Footage at Disability Hearing

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on May 19, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Have you ever wished you could get paid to do nothing? One man figured out a way, but now he is paying, sentenced to five years in prison for fraud after pretending to be blind to obtain $1.3 million in disability benefits. The man was blinded in one eye in a workplace incident in 2006, reports ABC News, but it turned out his vision was not totally impaired after all.

At a disability hearing, John Caltabiano, who claimed not to see, was shown footage taken by investigators revealing he could drive, read, and politely hold open doors. Good thing he has his vision because he'll have a lot of reading time in prison.

Disability Fraud Metrics

Caltalbiano was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud, and theft of government property. He was sentenced last fall to serve five years in prison. All this, based on a tip, and that is apparently quite common, like disability fraud itself.

The Social Security Administration reportedly received 90,000 fraud allegations to investigate last year, convicting 1200 people and winning back $225 million in stolen funds. That's taxpayer money taken based on feigned disabilities.

About 7,000 cases a year are opened and tips are an important part of the process. "When it comes to making an assessment of how many [fraudsters] are out there," SSA assistant inspector general for investigations Michael Robinson says. "[W]e really rely on those fraud allegations."

A Charming Aside

Like types attract and it should be noted that Caltabiano's girlfriend is also serving a sentence for fraudulently obtaining federal and state government benefits. She attended her boyfriend's disability hearing and led him in -- because he couldn't see, of course.

Now she is doing a three-year probationary term while he's in the clink. That is a couple who put a whole new shine on the expression "the blind leading the blind."

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