TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former Camden firefighter is accused of bilking the state disability pension out of more than $82,000 while working as a martial arts instructor and participating in competitive mixed martial arts.
Shane Streater, of Camden, is charged with theft by deception, and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. He was served with a summons in the case on Tuesday and was not arrested, Attorney General John Hoffman’s office said.
“It is outrageous that this former firefighter was showing off his prowess in mixed martial arts, all the while that he was lying about a disability and collecting benefits from the firemen’s pension system,” Hoffman said. “His conduct was a slap in the face of his colleagues in the fire department, who continued to risk their lives to protect the public and honestly earn their pay.”
Back in 2009, Streater applied for an accidental disability pension, officials said.
The 40-year-old claimed he was disabled with back and/or neck injuries following two accidents while on duty: a December 2007 car accident involving the fire truck he was riding in and in March 2008 when his fire truck collided with a pole, the attorney general said.
Based largely on statements from Streater regarding his inability to engage in physical activity, an independent doctor found he had a total and permanent disability. But the doctor also found that his disability was from a preexisting condition and not work related.
Streater was awarded a regular disability pension by the New Jersey Police and Firemen’s Retirement System Board in January 2010.
But then he appealed that ruling, insisting his disability was work-related and entitled to an accidental disability pension.
While an ordinary disability pension pays 40 percent of salary and is taxed, an accidental disability pension is untaxed and pays two-thirds of the beneficiary’s salary.
State officials said they later discovered Streater had been teaching jiu jitsu two or more times a week at a mixed martial arts academy.
They also found a YouTube video of him participating in a highly competitive tournament called Grapplers Quest in 2010. Upon further investigation, the attorney general’s office said Streater had been awarded his black belt in jiu jitsu in 2010, while collecting his disability pension.
The retirement system board then revoked Streater’s disability pension in April 2012, but he already had collected a total of $82,488 in benefits.
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