A man accused of falsely reporting his wife’s death to collect money from the federal 9/11 victims compensation fund was acquitted by reason of insanity on Friday.
Federal prosecutors and the defense attorney all suggested Stephen D. Laskowski, 59, of New Kensington, could be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster agreed after reviewing a psychiatric exam that described Laskowski as psychotic and delusional.
Laskowski was indicted on mail fraud charges in 2004 for filing paperwork stating his wife was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
He didn’t receive any benefits before his claims were found to be false.
Laskowski and Donna Lee Laskowski had been divorced years earlier, and she was living in Florida when he mailed claim forms to the victims compensation fund. He claimed his wife had also left behind a son and triplets. Authorities say the children don’t exist.
The judge freed Laskowski and ordered him to take his medication and participate in an outpatient mental health program offered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Congress created the compensation fund shortly after the attacks. The 2,880 individual payouts ranged from $250,000 up to $7.1 million.