Feds: Port Authority cop in band faked arm injury

March 27, 2013 4:46:40 AM PDT
A New York police officer moonlighting as the lead singer in a punk rock band was flailing around on stage while claiming he couldn't work because of an arm injury, federal authorities said Tuesday.

Christopher Inserra was arrested on mail fraud charges that allege he falsely collected more than $31,000 in disability payments in the nearly two years he was out sick from the Port Authority Police Department. He returned to work last March.

Inserra, 31, was released after signing a $25,000 bond at an appearance Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn. Neither he nor his attorney spoke to reporters as they left court.

Investigators say that while Inserra was claiming disability, he continued to perform with his Brooklyn-based band, Cousin Sleaze. Photos of shows from April 2011 show him "repeatedly moving his arms in a punching motion" and "violently flailing his arm in an up-and-down motion," a criminal complaint says.

In September 2011 - after Inserra again told doctors he was in intense pain - the band hit the road for a tour called "Miles of Mayhem." Video footage from performances in Athens, Ga., Cocoa Beach, Fla., and elsewhere shows Inserra fist pumping and thrashing around without any signs of discomfort, the complaint says.

According to the complaint, Inserra told the police department that he hurt his right arm while on duty in June 2010 when he helped take an injured Port Authority employee to a medical facility. At an initial evaluation, he falsely claimed that he suffered from a "tremendous amount of pain" around his right elbow and lower bicep, the complaint says.

Further examinations by doctors found no serious injuries, but the officer continued to complain that he was in so much pain he couldn't bend his arm, the complaint says.

The department agreed to give him time off with full pay. Inserra also filed claims with an insurance company that resulted in two payments totaling $31,486.

"I avoid using it for anything," the officer allegedly said during one exam in April 2011.

Federal authorities described Cousin Sleaze as a punk band, though its website suggests its style is more hardcore metal. The site promotes a new album called "Sick Maniacs," and says the band has shows booked later this week at clubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

If convicted, Inserra faces up to 20 years in prison.