9/11 first responder receives $400K check after compensation funds were stolen by attorney
A 9/11 hero who was sickened by toxic dust at ground zero is finally getting compensation after his initial payout was stolen by an attorney.
John Ferreyra and his wife stood in the shadow of the World Trade Center Thursday, holding a $400,000 check from the New York State Lawyers' Fund -- a small piece of the hundreds of thousands stolen from them by an attorney who promised to help them receive money from the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
Ferreyra, who is from Kings Park, fought a long battle with cancer but has since recovered.
Ferreya's one-time friend and fellow member of the NYPD, Lt. Gustavo Villa, pleaded guilty in late October to stealing the money from Ferreyra. Ferreyra and his wife were originally awarded more than $1 million from the compensation fund -- as of now, they've recovered $555,000.
Vila did repay Ferreyra a small portion of the stolen money and could be ordered to hand over more when he is sentenced on Feb. 5.
The scam was exposed by John Feal at the FealGood Foundation and the attorneys at Barasch and McGarry, who helped Ferreyra access the money from the Lawyers' Fund.
"You don't steal almost a million dollars from a dying man. There's no excuse for that. None," says Feal.
Now, 19 years after the terror attacks, Ferreyra is standing at the spot where so many lost their lives. He is healthy and at least made partially whole - financially.
"It's hallowed ground, and I hope it's always respected," says Ferreyra. "People are buried here, and it has to be respected and acknowledged."