Anthony Hernandez was forced to retire from his post as detective with the New York City Police Department in 2014 because a back injury left him disabled.
For his sacrifice in the line of duty, Hernandez was given a $90,000 annual pension, boosted because of the disability that would prevent him from being able to work again.
Just months later, Hernandez was back at work as a security guard for a military base—a job that would be difficult, if not impossible, for a man with back problems severe enough to be accurately called "disabled."
In its latest expose on abuses within the NYPD disability pension fund, the New York Daily News reports that Hernandez is now working as a security supervisor at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, where he has been seen "bending down and picking up weapons, jumping in and out of his vehicle." He's making about $50,000 at the new job, the paper reports.
It would appear that Hernandez is misleading someone. If he is truly disabled, then he would not have been able to pass a physical fitness exam required for all military personnel. If he is not disabled, then Hernandez is in violation of a state law preventing police officers from taking another job while they are collecting a disability pension unless 20 years have passed since the officer entered the force. Hernandez joined the NYPD in 2000, according to records reviewed by the Daily News.
Previously, the Daily News caught a former NYPD officer with a $100,000 annual disability pension working as an able-bodied campus safety officer at New York University. Another former NYPD cop who retired after suffering a debilitating knee injury is now pulling down an $83,000 annual disability pension from the city while working for the Broward County Sheriff's Department in Florida (and she's running triathlons too).
Maybe the best example of disability pension abuse in the NYPD is retired cop Derek Huebner. He retired in 1996 after six years on the force and has been getting annual disability pensions of more than $40,000 ever since. Now, Huebner is a body-builder. That seems like an odd hobby for a man with a shoulder injury that left him unable to work.
"There's no law against it," Huebner told the Daily News in January when asked about whether his hobby should raise questions about his disability pension check.
Such arrangements are hardly uncommon, as the Daily News' series of stories illustrates. For more than a decade, retired New York Police Department officers ran an elaborate scheme that allowed dozens of cops to qualify for boosted pensions by claiming to be disabled when they really weren't.
Don't count on an internal investigation to turn off the lucrative pension spigot. Contracted for comment about whether Hernandez was violating New York City Pension Fund rules by working another job while being disabled, a spokeswoman told the Daily News that any complaints would be "very seriously" and immediately "referred to the NYPD for investigation."
Yep, that oughta do it.