Con receives disability for PTSD after serving time - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Con receives disability for PTSD after serving time

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A convicted Bay State killer convinced the Feds that his 15 years behind bars were so stressful that it gave him PTSD, clearing the way for him to collect a $700-a-month taxpayer-funded disability handout.

Lester Young, convicted for shooting a Dorchester man during a 1994 robbery, realized his big house stint made him a nervous wreck after he was paroled in 2009 and had to face an automatic bathroom sink.

"I actually sat there and couldn't turn the water on until I saw another individual come in to use the bathroom," he told the Parole Board in February. "I couldn't turn the water on until I saw another individual come in and put his hands under the nozzle. And that kind of made me feel incompetent, it kind of made me feel inadequate. And ashamed."

Young revealed his feelings of shame and inadequacy to the Parole Board this past February because he was asking for another chance from them. He had been sent back to prison after his 2009 release.

Board members grilled him on the Social Security disability pay he received when he was out.

"Why should the federal government give you $700 dollars a month?" one board member asked. "You're an able-bodied person. Intelligent. There's a lot of work you could do better than I could do. Why do you get $700 and I don't?"

FOX Undercover obtained a video copy of the Young's February hearing, which shows him seated at a table before Parole Board members, who are not visible when they speak.

"First time I saw sensors I didn't know how to do it. Why do you get $700 and I don't? I hope you have an answer for that, sir," Parole Board chairman Josh Wall said. "If you don't have an answer you're committing fraud on the federal government. And we're not going to be a part of your fraud. You understand that?"

"Absolutely," Young answered.

"It's kind of shocking to hear that that you intentionally meant to commit fraud," Wall said.

"Absolutely not," Young replied.

"Well then what did you intend? Well, you tell me, why do you need that money?" Wall asked.

"I didn't have any money. I didn't have nothing. And I got diagnosed and I was put through a process," Young replied.

The disability checks stopped coming after Young violated his parole and went back to prison last year.

The U.S. Social Security Administration could not tell FOX Undercover how many other ex-cons are claiming the same disability.

Kerry Hennessy, the program director at Highpoint Outpatient Treatment Center in New Bedford, where Young says he was diagnosed with PTSD, says therapists in her office are frequently rejecting ex-cons seeking disability diagnoses.

That comes as no surprise to Annette Presti, who knows what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is about.

"If there are one there are more. Definitely. There have got to be more," she said.
Presti and her husband found the bodies of her daughter and granddaughter, Joanne and Alyssa Presti, murdered in their Woburn home in 2004 by Michael Bizanowicz, who stabbed Joanne repeatedly after raping her, and is believed to have chased Alyssa up to her bedroom and slashed her throat after she interrupted the attack on her mother.

"Peter and I walked in on it. And for parents that's horrible, it's horrible. It's something you live with for the rest of your life," she said.

Presti never tried to collect one cent from the federal government because of the trauma she experienced.

"Why can't he get a job? Because he has post traumatic stress? I worked. I don't get it," she said.

She's not the only one who doesn't get it.

State Rep. Shaunna O'Connell, R-Taunton, wonders how many other ex-cons are doing the same thing.

"When we have social programs that help people you always have those unscrupulous people who try to abuse the system, who get into it fraudulently and we have to remain vigilant at all times," she said.

Abusing the system is just what Parole Board members suspected young of doing.

"Somebody might be offended by the fact that you're getting SSDI funds for post traumatic disorder claimed while you're in jail for offenses you committed. And basically the argument could be made, not that we're arguing this, but people could believe, ‘Hey he put himself in jail.' Right? Now he wants SSDI funds for putting himself in jail for a crime he committed?" one member said.

"What are you going to do when you get out?" board chairman Wall asked.

"I have a job," he replied.

"And what are you going to do with those SSI benefits? Knowing that there's some doctor out there that would write some crazy thing. What are you going to do?" the board member asked.

"I'm in my transition," Young replied. "I'm not going to take it."

Young remains in prison because the parole board has not yet decided if he'll get another chance at freedom.

The Social Security Administration would not comment on Young's case, but tells us recipients must provide medical evidence they deserve disability benefits.

US Sen. Scott Brown is reacting to FOX Undercover's investigation, saying in a statement, "Paroled murderers should be working to pay back their debts to society, not using their time in prison as an excuse to take disability checks away from those who truly deserve them."

Brown has now sent a letter to the Social Security Administration wanting answers about how many ex-cons are getting disability benefits based on disability that did not exist before they went to prison.

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