NBC 4 New York
A Port Authority officer is accused of faking an injury and an insurance claim so he could tour with his punk rock band. Checkey Beckford reports.
A Port Authority police officer has been arrested, accused of falsely claiming he was injured on the job and collecting disability pay for nearly two years while he performed with his metal rock band in the tri-state and other parts of the U.S.
Christopher Inserra, 31, of Brooklyn, a five-year veteran of the Port Authority Police Department, was charged with mail fraud for allegedly scheming to defraud AFLAC insurance company, according to federal prosecutors.
Inserra told the Port Authority on June 1, 2010 that he'd suffered a debilitating injury on the job while he was helping to transport a Port Authority contractor to a medical facility, according to the criminal complaint. He said he'd hurt his lower bicep and elbow region and was in excruciating pain.
Two separate doctors found only a low-grade injury in Inserra's arm, inconsistent with the level of pain he was reporting, the complaint said. An MRI found no muscle injury or tear, and Inserra was told to start using his arm and to go to physical therapy.
But Inserra continued to insist the injury was so painful that he couldn't bend his arm, and the Port Authority moved him to injured on duty status and paid him while he was allegedly out sick for the next nearly two years.
During that time, Inserra performed with his band Cousin Sleaze at multiple venues across the tri-state and other locations. A Postal Service investigator said in the complaint he reviewed the Cousin Sleaze website, YouTube videos and Facebook photographs, observing Inserra, the lead singer of the band, "repeatedly clutching a microphone during his singing performances; constantly and repeatedly jumping up and down; and flailing both of his arms in a rapid back and forth fashion."
Inserra periodically underwent routine medical evaluations in that time, all the while continuing to report suffering the same degree of pain and loss of mobility in his arm as when he first got hurt, the complaint stated. In May 2011, he received a platelet-rich plasma injection to purportedly stimulate healing in his arm, and in August 2011, underwent exploratory surgery to locate and repair tendons in his allegedly injured arm. The treating surgeon found no torn tendons or ligaments.
He also filed for claims in a separate accident policy and short-term disability policy through AFLAC, which is allowed as a supplemental benefit for Port Authority police officers. He received two separate checks totaling $31,486.66 during the time he was out of work.
In September 2011, after receiving the second insurance check from AFLAC, Inserra embarked on a "Miles of Mayhem Tour" with his band, performing in venues across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. The investigator again reported in his examination of videos and photos that Inserra was "well-muscled and that both arms and shoulders appeared to be symmetrical."
In March 2012, nearly 22 months after initially reporting his injury and just short of the two-year maximum that the Port Authority Police Department foots an officer's sick leave, the Port Authority deemed Inserra fit for duty and he returned to full duty.
Inserra was arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday. He did not speak to reporters as he left the courthouse.
A mail fraud conviction carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.