John Caltabiano was collecting disability benefits for a 2006 workplace accident that he said left him blind when investigators caught him on video reading, driving, and holding a door open for someone, ABC News reports. The 49-year-old New York man had said in his benefits application that he couldn't do basic things like cook for himself, exercise, shave, or get around the house. "I sit in the dark and listen to TV," he wrote. But based on a tip, US Attorney Richard Hartunian and investigators at the Social Security Administration gave Caltabiano a closer look. He had indeed lost sight in one eye in a workplace accident, they found, but video evidence showed he wasn't homebound.
Aired Friday on Nightline, the evidence helped authorities in October convict Caltabiano and girlfriend Colleen J. McCarten, 43, of fraud and theft in faking an on-the-job-injury, the New York Daily News reports. Hartunian says the New York man was on track to steal half-a-million dollars over the course of his life. In April, Caltabiano was sentenced to 57 months and McCarten to three years' probation, per a press release; his lawyer says he plans to appeal. As for his attempted fraud, it's not all that unusual. "It costs the county a lot of money—a lot of money," Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple tells ABC News 10. "And then if you start thinking about having to hire all these investigators to investigate it—paying their salary and benefits—people wonder why their taxes are so high. Well, here you go.” (Read more disability benefits stories.)