BOSTON – Federal prosecutors trying an ex-Boston firefighter on fraud charges this week plan to graphically chart what they say was the jake’s robust, healthy lifestyle of playing baseball and competing in bodybuilding contests while he was being paid to sit home with a bad back.
Albert Arroyo, 49, of Roslindale is accused of applying for tax-free accidental-disability retirement benefits for what he claimed was a debilitating slip and fall in 2008, while simultaneously pumping iron and preening for cameras with abs of steel. Jury selection begins today in the fraud case in U.S. District Court. Arroyo faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors hope to show jurors what they claim is a chart of the ex-fire-prevention inspector’s activities while on the city’s clock between 2006 and 2008 that shows him shopping, dining out and working out, visiting a tanning salon and taking out-of-state trips.
A photo shoot of Arroyo from the magazine Natural Bodybuilding and footage from the International Natural Bodybuilding Foundation Northeast Classic and Pro Figure competitions, all from 2008, are also among the exhibits the U.S. Attorney’s Office will use to flex its muscle, court filings state. Boston Fire Department Commissioner Roderick Fraser is listed among the potential witnesses to be called.
Arroyo’s attorney Timothy Watkins declined to comment yesterday but is fighting to exclude the prosecution chart from the trial.
Watkins argued in court papers that Arroyo never wanted to retire to begin with, but “felt pressured by his superiors to file . . . the paperwork.” Watkins said neither of the two mail fraud charges Arroyo faces “is related to or furthers any of (his) alleged efforts to ‘play hooky’ from work or any of his out-of-state travels.”
He said he fears the government’s data “will likely paint a dark picture of Arroyo as a disrespectful, dishonest employee.” In Watkins’ opinion, “These events have nothing to do with his disability application, but they will leave an indelible impression with the jury that Arroyo is disposed to act deceptively and defraud his employer.”