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New York Post

CRUEL '9/11' $NUB

By CARL CAMPANILE and SUSAN EDELMAN

July 18, 2006 — Heartless city officials denied family members of a hero cop who died after working at Ground Zero the pension they're entitled to — because he was on his deathbed and couldn't sign the paperwork, his wife charges in a lawsuit.

Ronald Weintraub, a muscular 43-year-old father of two assigned to Midtown South, died of liver-related bile-duct cancer on Nov. 16.

"I'm shocked. It sure is a slap in the face. Ronnie did things for the city and the city is doing nothing for him. All I want is fairness," said his widow, Eileen, who filed suit in Manhattan state Supreme Court.

"I'm trying to care for my family through Ronnie. He told me, 'I'm not afraid of dying. But I'm afraid of having my children without a daddy.' "

Weintraub worked at the World Trade Center site more than 100 hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said.

A state law, approved last year, presumptively provides disability benefits to 9/11 workers who've fallen ill from toxic exposure.

But the city's Police Pension Fund denied Weintraub and his family a disability pension, which would have entitled them to 85 percent to 90 percent of his final salary, plus medical benefits, PBA officials said.

Instead, the Weintraubs received a regular pension, at half salary and far fewer benefits.

The reason: Weintraub never filled out the paperwork himself. The police pension board rejected his disability-pension application in March because it was signed by a PBA representative.

His widow — who has been left to care for her two children, Daniella, 9, and Ryan, 4 — said there's a very good reason her husband didn't fill out the form. He was dying.

She said the city should admit a mistake and provide the benefits, as it did in the case of former Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, who suffers from respiratory illness from working at Ground Zero.

Mayor Bloomberg dropped the city's fight to block workers' compensation benefits for Washington after The Post highlighted his case.

In Weintraub's court papers, PBA lawyer Michael Murray called the city's decision against Weintraub "hypertechnical" and counter to the intent of the World Trade Center disability law.

The Post first reported on Weintraub's cancer in May.

The city Law Department said it is reviewing Weintraub's claim.

carl.campanile@nypost.com