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Hearing held in wake of alleged 9/11 first responders social security scam

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Hearing held in wake of alleged 9/11 first responders social security scam
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Last week's announcement that former first responders allegedly used 9/11 to scam the government out of millions of dollars has led to finger pointing on Capitol Hill. Michael Scotto reports.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republicans on Capitol Hill found it hard to contain their anger.

At a House Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing Thursday, the GOP lashed out at top officials of the Social Security Administration.

The hearing came more than a week after 106 people, including many police and fire retirees, were indicted for Social Security disability fraud.

"We are defrauding the American people. We are not defrauding Social Security," said Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania.

According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who sat front and center during the hearing, many of the defendants apparently lied about developing psychiatric problems after the September 11th attacks.

Republicans said it's part of a pattern.

"This is a program plagued by fraud conspiracy," said Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas.

According to Republicans, this latest incident is a sign that the Social Security Administration isn't doing its job, but officials at the SSA said that they were the ones who notified authorities of the scheme.

Democrats came to the rescue of the SSA, claiming that the tone of the GOP was rooted purely in politics.

"The tone of the questions, I hope you understand, is because we do have a Democratic president, and sometimes, anything that's done by the administration is not appreciated," said Rep. Charles Rangel, whose district covers parts of Manhattan and the Bronx.

That's not to say that Democrats weren't outraged. They now fear that this case could hurt the reputation of people who legitimately got sick while working on the pile.

"If any member of Congress tries to use the fraudulent activities to taint the sick and wounded first responders of 9/11, they will have to deal with me directly," said Rep. Joe Crowley, whose district covers parts of the Bronx and Queens.

It's unlikely that this case in New York City will be the last. Government officials say they are currently conducting more large-scale investigations that could uncover more fraud nationwide.

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