Disbarred Westchester attorney admits stealing over $900K from LI 9/11 first responder
A disbarred Westchester attorney admitted Thursday to stealing nearly $1 million from a Long Island 9/11 hero.
Former NYPD Lt. Gus Vila, 62 of Yorktown Heights, pleaded guilty in federal court for stealing the money from another former NYPD officer from Kings Park. The two knew each other from various NYPD functions.
Vila admitted that he kept $900,000 from his client, a former friend, John Ferreyra. Ferreyra was caught in the collapse of the World Trade Center and worked at Ground Zero. He later became gravely ill.
Ferreyra was awarded more than $1 million from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund in 2016, but Vila kept 90% of that money, lying to Ferreyra and saying the fund didn't pay him.
Vila told a judge, "I knew it was a crime. I knew it was illegal. I have no excuse for it."
Today, Ferreyra is cancer-free and lamented trusting his former friend.
"One of his words to us is 'I'm surprised it took you this long to find out,'" says Ferreyra. "That was a stab to me. Whatever time in jail he gets, I hope he reflects on what he did, and maybe when it comes out on the other side, he will be a better person and that's my only hope for him."
Ferreyra said despite all he went through, he is happy to still be alive, saying, "That's the only thing that's keeping me from really being truly angry."
Vila will be sentenced in February and could face a maximum of 10 years in federal prison. He could be ordered to pay all of the $922,000 that, as of now, he still owes Ferreyra.