A former New York City Police officer and disbarred lawyer pleaded guilty to scamming a fellow officer who spent weeks helping clear rubble from Ground Zero after 9/11 out of $900,000.
Gustavo Vila, 62, pleaded guilty in federal court to cheating the U.S. government for pocketing the money from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund that was meant for John Ferreyra, 59.
Ferreyra, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, was awarded more than one million dollars in 2016, thanks to the help of Vila. Instead of turning over the money, Vila lied to Ferreyra and kept most of it for himself. He arranged for the funds to be deposited into his firm's bank account and only sent $100,000 to Ferreyra. For the next three years, Vila continued to lie to Ferreyra, claiming the government never sent the rest of the money he was owed.
Vila was disbarred in 2015 after he was charged with grand larceny for keeping a woman's down payment on a home. When Ferreyra discovered that Vila had lost his license to practice law, he reached out to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and learned all of the money had been released back in 2016. Ferreyra confronted Vila, and he admitted to stealing the money.
Vila faces up to ten years in prison and agreed to pay $922,559.84 in restitution.
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