Former Southbridge Towers president charged in fraud scheme


Joseph Morrone, right, was charged as part of the criminal scheme prosecuted by the D.A. this week.

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  (ORIGINALLY POSTED JAN. 8, 2014) A former Southbridge Towers president is one of 106 people accused of fraudulently collecting disability benefits as part of a massive criminal scheme.

Joseph Morrone, 60, who still lives in the middle income co-op, was listed in the indictment announced on Jan. 7 by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

Prosecutors say he and the others collectively stole millions of dollars from the U.S. Social Security Administration by falsely claiming to have mental and emotional illnesses.

Between October 2009 and June 2013, Morrone received around $109,000 in disability benefits while claiming he suffered from psychological problems that caused him to fear large crowds, according to the D.A.’s indictment.

Morrone was president of Southbridge’s board of directors in the late-1990s and early-2000s, according to one longtime resident of the Seaport complex who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Morrone currently serves as president of Southbridge’s Adult and Senior Citizens Activities Center.

“He has very deep roots in the community, and he’s very well-known around the neighborhood,” the source said, adding that numerous members of Morrone’s family also currently live at Southbridge.

Investigators said they were able to identify Morrone as one of the alleged Social Security defrauders after finding footage of a recent interview he gave to a PIX 11 news reporter while serving canoli at the San Gennaro street festival in Little Italy.

His enthusiastic presence at the large festival apparently made investigators think that he did not, in fact, suffer from psychological problems that caused him to fear large crowds, according to the indictment.

According to past emails and letters to the editor Morrone sent to Downtown Express, he was also a coach for children playing in the

Downtown Football League during its 2012 season — another fact that casts doubt on his claims of severe mental infirmity between 2009 and 2013.

Morrone has officially been charged with second degree grand larceny and fourth degree criminal facilitation, according to the D.A.’s indictment.

The grand larceny charge is a Class C felony, which — if Morrone were to be convicted — carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. The criminal facilitation charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to one year in prison.

When he was reached by phone and asked to comment on the indictment, Morrone stopped speaking and hung up.


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17 Responses to Former Southbridge Towers president charged in fraud scheme

  1. I have known Joe Morrone since we were kids in grammar school. The Joe Morrone I know is one that has had more surgeries in the last five years then most people have in a lifetime. He has been and is disabled. He is battling many illnesses and this will be proven during the trail. The Joe Morrone I know is the one that along with me have climbed twenty seven flights of stairs at Southbridge Towers during 911 bringing water, food and medicine to our seniors. The Joe Morrone I know is one that cares for his community and gives of himself tirelessly. All this I believe will come out in the trail and he will be found "not guilty". So, please hold your judgments on him until he has his day in court.

    • i knew when i read about this big case that it's never the way it seems and it's usually some little fish they parade around and make them look like they caught jack the ripper. What i mean to say is I don't know him, but I believe you and it doesn't surprise me.

  2. Joe morrone used his position as the president of southbridge to get his entire family apartments at southbrige. He is a scammer. Hope that comes out in court to!!!!

  3. I would like to set the record straight – Mr. Morrone was never a police officer and never collected a tax free city pension. As a matter of fact, he does not collect any pension. But like so many others, when his 30 year Wall Street career abruptly ended when the economy tanked, Mr. Morrone was devastated and was eventually advised to seek medical help. Under the advice of his doctors, and through proper channels, Mr. Morrone applied and received state disability. With hard work, medication, and his doctor’s care, Mr. Morrone eventually took on limited day-to-day activities.

    People, along with the Press, are quick to overlook who Mr. Morrone really is and what he has done to benefit his neighbors and community. Yes, Mr. Morrone is deeply rooted in his community, he was born and raised in lower Manhattan and now has three generations living in Southbridge Towers including extended family – he has a lot invested here! Unable to work and living on a very limited income, Mr. Morrone tries to give back by delving into community issues where he once again feels like a contributing, productive citizen. Mr. Morrone cares deeply about his community and he tries, to the best of his ability, to ensure that his and other people’s grandchildren live in a safe, vibrant community. One example is during 9/11 when for days he endlessly assisted the elderly and other residents going up and down staircases in towers that were 27 flights to ensure their safety and well being. He also assisted with the Red Cross providing aid to residents in need, as well as Southbridge Tower’s staff. He was and still is a tireless advocate for our senior community and when possible, is the first one to lend a helping hand to anyone in need.

    What’s very unfortunate about this article is that the “anonymous” long-time Southbridge resident who’s trying to insult Mr. Morrone’s character, is probably one of the many that Mr. Morrone has befriended and helped in the past.

    Best wishes and good health to you Mr. Morrone and thank you for all that you do.

  4. Combat Veteran

    It sad that people have to hide and make false accusations about yr life style, when the truth is so far from that!! U have only gave your all to this community and always was the first to step up and help anyone in need!! I have no doubt that this will all come out and they will see you like we all do!! A loving, caring family man, with nothing but open arms to anyone in need!! God bless, and forgive the person trying to ruin your character, when all u do is give!!!

  5. What actual job did he have during 9/11 that he is eligible for SSI disability?

  6. Disgusted Mother

    Morrone is a phoney. His daughter got her 2 bedroom apt in NO TIME. My family has been on the list for over 8 years, WE ARE STILL WAITING! He is a scammer. I agree with that person who wrote it! Totally disgusting.

  7. Fellow southbridgean

    Joe has helped so many people in our community and it’s sickening to read all the negative posts written here. Seems like a lot of the hatred comes from those in glass houses who probably asked for “help” and didn’t receive any. Watch out for the stones…

    And for the person who creepily mentioned his daughter, wondering why their family was waiting 8 years for an apt: I suggest you put your surveillance equipment away and simply call the office and ASK.

    It’s disheartening how much people love negativity. If the allegations are proven true then from a distance I could only feel bad for everyone involved. But I’m too busy over here judging myself so I don’t have the time to judge others negatively…especially on a message board like this.

  8. What has he actually done to help our community?

  9. It’s so true that society conveniently dismisses the good deeds of great people in trying times.”Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.The only thing this man is guilty of is going above and beyond anyone’s expectations to the point of utter and absolute exhaustion on every imaginable level to an uncanny degree.A strength of character and being so very few posses and and deserve accolades for, and even less so deserve any mention. Joseph A. Marrone, is the epitome and defining example of, “a pillar of the community”, true “salt of the earth”. The genuine concern and love he shows for his family and neighbors is exemplary to say the least. I have no doubts towards the integrity, actions, or words he personifies in the least. Anyone who can accuse and support the idea of him being a scam artist and at fault of something so far from the allegations being haphazardly flung around, have no clue who he is or what stands for and suffers. Love&blessings to my dear friend and all of his loved ones always…keep your faith.

  10. Everyone is missing the point with their posts.
    I also know Joe. I personally think he's a nice guy and helps various organizations BUT that is not what this is about.
    This is about applying and getting SS on a Psychological issue. It's not about any other disability or surgery as John states above. I'm not a Dr so I can't say either way how this will turn out.

  11. ConcernedParent

    All of the housing complexes all over the city are filled with numerous family members. I am sure there are a number of families at Southbridge, Independence Plaza, Penn South, etc. where you can find three generations living in separate apartments. There is nothing new about that.

  12. I just love those who hide behind a computer and post comments. Wait until all the facts are out. Stop putting his family involved in your comments. That just isn't right. You say "hi" then " back stab". Please you all have something in your own closets. you have no B— to tell a person how you feel to there face. a bunch of gossips, until they have their own family crisis.

  13. do not compare Southbridge with Independene Plaza. You guys have a sweet deal there. We lost our fight. Affordable rent, you own your apartments, garage that are cheap, we pay $ 400.00. Stop complaining!

    • Who’s complaining… The comment was many generations of family members live in the same housing complexes. No comparison to rent or garage charges was made. Don’t be bitter.

  14. Former NYSE Trader

    Joe worked on the trading floor of the NYSE on 9/11. Numerous articles say he was NYPD. Joe worked on the NYSE for many, many years. On 9/11 he actually confronted a suspicious, backpack wearing guy who was walking across the trading floor shortly after the planes hit and all hell was breaking loose outside. The guy was somehow able to gain access to the trading floor and when Joe asked him for his NYSE ID badge the guy got scared and started to run. Joe tackled him and detained him until his credentials could be obtained.

  15. NYS is currently investigating along with Manhattan DA ….Something is very wrong here with SouthBridge Towers. But sooner or later they are going to make arrest, and this will be the let down of South Bridge. Many of the Senator old friends lives here…SENATOR MITCHELL who was responsible for these Mitchell Lama Buildings. They have one tenant at this place who is a big time crook that got away with a big swindle at Bach many years ago. His name is J.P. Big big phony…

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