A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier collected more than $156,000 in disability payments after reporting she severely hurt her ankle delivering packages — but then she was caught walking around Walt Disney World, federal authorities said.
The New Jersey woman lied on several disability claims saying she hadn’t “worked or had outside employment for extended periods of time” since September 2020, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
However, she received disability benefits while running a travel agency, which she owns, and visiting Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, according to prosecutors and court documents.
On her travel agency’s website, she publicly marketed herself as specializing in “all aspects of Disney travel,” according to court documents.
The woman, 60, of Oak Ridge, pleaded guilty to one count of federal employee compensation fraud Jan. 30, the attorney’s office announced in a news release.
McClatchy News contacted her defense attorney, Ira M. Slovin, for comment on Jan. 31 and didn’t receive an immediate response.
The trips to Disney and Universal
On Sept. 1, 2020, the woman submitted a disability compensation claim form saying she was injured while on the job as a USPS carrier in August 2020, according to a criminal complaint.
The woman wrote that as she delivered “3 very large packages” to a home, she “rolled (her) right ankle as (she) turned to go back to (her) truck” — resulting in a “severe sprain,” the criminal complaint says.
Afterward, she sought disability compensation through October 2023, according to an information filed in court.
She hadn’t returned to work for USPS since she reported her injury, the criminal complaint says.
In December 2022, the woman visited Walt Disney World for a trip related to her travel agency, according to the criminal complaint.
Federal investigators say they surveilled her and witnessed her walking around Disney’s Magic Kingdom “without the aid of any mobility assistance device” for nearly three hours.
She walked around the park for more than 2 miles, the criminal complaint says.
Over the next few days, she was seen shopping at a mall, shopping at Disney Springs and visiting Universal Studios in Orlando, according to investigators.
At Universal, she walked around the park and went on rides, the criminal complaint says.
The woman could be sentenced up to five years in prison for federal employee compensation fraud and could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000 — or a fine that’s “twice the gross amount of any pecuniary gain,” according to prosecutors.
In her plea agreement, prosecutors noted that she helped authorities in their prosecution of her by letting them know she wanted to plead guilty.
Her sentencing is set for June 12.
Oak Ridge is about 40 miles northwest of New York City.