Shane B. Streater, 41, of Camden, was convicted by a Camden County jury of second-degree theft by deception. Streater was indicted on June 22, 2015 as the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The verdict followed a week-long trial before Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley in Camden County. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000. Sentencing for Streater is scheduled for May 20.
Deputy Attorneys General Jonathan Gilmore and Pearl Minato tried the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. They were assisted by Analyst Nathalie Kurzawa. The matter was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the Board of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS).
“Streater portrayed himself as a firefighter permanently disabled in the line of duty, but it was all a shameful charade, as he demonstrated by engaging in strenuous martial arts activities,” said Acting Attorney General Lougy. “His ploy to steal pension benefits was a slap in the face of the honest firefighters and officers who continue to serve the public bravely and who are counting on that pension fund for their retirement.”
“This verdict serves as a warning to anyone who would attempt to defraud our state pension systems by falsely claiming a disability,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Hardworking wage earners don’t appreciate those who cheat the system, so these cases frequently begin with tips from citizens who are outraged by behavior like Streater’s. We urge anyone with information about pension fraud to call us confidentially.”
In February 2009, Streater applied for an accidental disability pension, asserting that he was disabled as the result of two accidents while on duty: one in December 2007, when a car struck the fire truck he was riding, and a second in March 2008, when his fire truck hit a pothole. In each incident, he claimed to have injured his back and/or neck. 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. The doctor concluded, however, that his disability was from a preexisting condition and not work related.
The PFRS Board awarded Streater an ordinary disability pension on January 9, 2010. Streater appealed to the Office of Administrative Law, insisting his disability was work-related and he was entitled to an accidental disability pension, which is untaxed and pays two-thirds of the beneficiary’s salary, while an ordinary disability pension pays 40 percent of salary and is taxed. A deputy attorney general and investigator handling the appeal for the PFRS Board subsequently learned that Streater was teaching jiu jitsu two or more times a week at a mixed martial arts academy. They also found a YouTube video of Streater participating in the highly competitive Grapplers Quest Mixed Martial Arts Tournament in June 2010, at which he won a bronze medal. Further investigation revealed that Streater was awarded his black belt in jiu jitsu in 2010, while collecting the PFRS disability pension. The PFRS Board revoked Streater’s disability pension on April 9, 2012, but he already had collected a total of $82,488 in benefits.
Deputy Attorney General Peter W. Lee presented the case to the state grand jury. The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau by Deputy Attorney General Gilmore, Detective John Sheeran and Detective Paul Marfino Jr., under the supervision of Lt. Robert Feriozzi, Deputy Attorney General Lee, who is Deputy Bureau Chief, and Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, who is Bureau Chief. Acting Attorney General Lougy thanked the PFRS Board and the Division of Law for their investigation and referral.
Acting Attorney General Lougy and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free tip line 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to confidentially report fraud, corruption and other illegal activities. The public also can log on to the Division’s webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.