Last week I came across a story on philly.com about a local guy named Christopher Onesti who is collecting disability payments from the state of New Jersey. That sounds innocent enough, how could he be considered a thief? Well, you can read the story here, and I recommend that you do, but here is the short version:
Chris Onesti was gainfully employed as a transit cop in New Jersey. During some sort of test at the firing range he had an issue with his target so he went down the range to fix it. That required use of a stapler. One of the staples hit his left hand, made a wound the size of a “pinprick”, and forced him to use a Band Aid on the wound to finish and pass his test. Well, 18 months later a judge declared him “totally and permanently disabled” and no longer able to handle a gun or perform the duties of a transit cop at the age of 29.
Nowadays, Chris collects approximately $46k every year from the tax payers of New Jersey along with the salary he makes at his normal job at Auctus Wealth Management. Believe it or not, the staple didn’t render him disabled for life and according to his Facebook page, he is still able to fire a gun despite being injured by a staple several years ago.
Based on the article from philly.com as well as this one from the UK Daily Mail, I’d say Onesti certainly knows he is doing something wrong.
“It absolutely look ridiculous…On the face of it, it looks absolutely absurd”
“Could I be a productive member of the police department? Absolutely.”
“My lawyer said I was entitled to it”
“The only decision I made was to say, ‘Okay, I will take that'”
“It’s not a question of deserve, it’s a question of what the law says.”
In the eyes of the law, Onesti is innocent. Does this mean he has done nothing wrong? Is he a thief? Do you decide what is right and wrong based on what the law says? Do you get your ethics from the state?
There is such a thing as an own occupation definition of disability on a private disability policy. With that definition, the full benefit is paid if you cannot work in your own occupation, even if you can do another one. Based on Onesti’s own words, this is not the case, he could be a productive officer. The main difference in this situation is that in the private sector you have a voluntary agreement between the insured and the insurer. In the case of Onesti, you have Onesti voluntarily (with the blessing of a judge) taking money from the tax payers of New Jersey, who never agreed to give him their money.
If you stand outside while your friend robs a bank then knowingly accept some of that money from him, are you in the wrong? Even if you aren’t at the scene of the crime, if a group of your buddies stole cash from a safe, got away with it, then gave some of it to you, are you wrong to knowingly accept stolen cash?
I’d say yes, he is a thief. I don’t think it is good enough to say “I did nothing illegal”. That’s true, Chris, you didn’t break the law. That doesn’t mean it is right. That doesn’t change the fact that the money comes directly from the pockets of the people of New Jersey. It isn’t enough to go through the bureaucracy to reform the system (even though they should). Chris, give up your fraudulent disability benefit. Please stop taking money from your neighbors, don’t wait for a judge to make you stop.
God Bless Freedom, Liberty, and Personal Property,
Slappy Jones II