BERGENFIELD, N.J. -- After Christopher Cassese of Bergenfield received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marines following a controversial incident that cost him a rank, CNN produced a feature on his new business, Semper Fi Pest Control.
On Thursday, authorities charged Cassese, 44, with working the side job while collecting more than $20,000 in paid injury leave from the U.S. Postal Service.
While on injury leave, Casesse "was required to complete and sign US Postal and Department of Labor forms on which there was a question directly related to his injury status and any outside work being performed during the leave," Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Cassese "completed more than ten of the forms indicating that he was not working in any other capacity while on leave," the prosecutor said.
His labor was Semper Fi Pest Control was physically similar to his post office job -- "work he claimed that he was physically unable to complete," Grewal said.
He "did not disclose his side business to the US Postal Service or the US Department of Labor, which took over the responsibility of compensating him while he was out on injury leave," the prosecutor said.
The fifth member of his family to enlist in the U.S. armed forces, Cassese made headlines in 2007, when a military jury in Parris Island, S.C., found him guilty of disobeying a superior officer's command to return to recruiting duty in Clifton a year earlier in order to care for his suicidal 11-year-old son.
The prosecutor in the case called for a reduction of three ranks, but the three-member jury decided on one, to staff sergeant, and Casesse was honorably discharged after a 12-year military career.
Investigators on Thursday issued Cassese a summons charged him with insurance fraud and theft by deception following an investigation by members of the Grewal's White Collar Crimes Unit and the Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General.
He's due in Central Municipal Court in Hackensack this coming Tuesday.
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