By John Lynds
He was picked as America’s Top Cop, was a candidate for Ward I City Council and the 2005 East Boston Times Man of the Year, but now Boston Police Detective Eliezer Gonzalez can add a criminal conviction to his list of achievements.
Gonzalez 48, of East Boston plead guilty Monday in Federal Court with fraud involving his work-related disability claim.
The 34-count indictment included the charge of mail fraud.
If the case went to court prosecutors said they would have introduced evidence that the City of Boston and a private supplemental insurer were defrauded by Gonzalez who went out on injured leave after allegedly suffering on-the-job injuries in September 2007. Gonzalez immediately began receiving tax-free injured pay and also filed for accidental disability retirement.
According to the Indictment Gonzalez greatly exaggerated and falsified both his injuries and ongoing physical issues and that he fraudulently collected both injured leave pay from the City of Boston as well as supplemental insurance benefits.
Gonzalez was videotaped feigning injuries on or near the same days that he was recorded acting injury-free. Gonzalez was required to attend regular medical appointments at the Boston Police Department Headquarters for evaluation. According to the indictment Gonzalez arrived at those appointments walking slowly with the assistance of a cane and accompanied by associates who assisted him during those appointments. Evidence would have shown that prior to and after attending these medical appointments, Gonzalez was videotaped and photographed walking normally without the assistance of a cane.
In May 2008, Gonzalez appeared at a Boston Police Department medical appointment with assistance, using his cane, and acting debilitated.
Also, several days later, it was alleged Gonzalez traveled to Vietnam, toured Ho Chi Minh City, socialized with friends, and participated in various strenuous tourist activities in an unimpaired fashion and without the aid of a cane, and included videotaping himself riding on the back of a moped weaving through a crowded street.
“The allegations against Mr. Gonzalez are an affront to the honest men and women of the Boston Police Department,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said. “The fraudulent disability claims he allegedly made denigrate officers and other public servants who are truly disabled in the line of duty.”
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said the Boston Police Department will continue to take an aggressive stance on any individual who takes advantage of a law intended to protect officers who are legitimately injured on the job.
“I commend the Boston Police Anti-Corruption Unit for commencing this investigation and working closely with our federal partners,” said Davis. “We are committed to maintaining effective community relations and will not tolerate violations of the public’s trust.”
Gonzalez faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each count of mail fraud.
In 2005, Gonzalez accepted the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) prestigious Top Cop award, which was presented to Gonzalez by America’s Most Wanted’ John Walsh in Washington D.C.
He received the award for thwarting the August 2004 kidnapping of Michael Steven Rauda by his father Jose Granados.
Gonzalez will be sentenced on June 3.