A Secret Service office technician has confessed to swiping five government cars recovered at Ground Zero to give to family members, court papers unsealed yesterday reveal.
William Bennette, 52, told investigators on April 2 that he abused his power by diverting salvageable government cars found at the World Trade Center site - and wrongly classifying them as having been "crushed" at the Staten Island landfill to cover his tracks.
Calling the thefts "aberrant behavior," defense lawyer Alan Liberman blamed trauma Bennette suffered on Sept. 11, 2001, for driving him to crime.
The lawyer said Bennette, who lives in Bayside, Queens, received a commendation for valor for rescuing people from 7 World Trade Center, where he was working during at the time of the terror attacks.
A retired NYPD sergeant who has worked for the Secret Service since 1999, Bennette told the feds that he gave one car to his daughter and two to his mother, court papers show.
He faces up to 10 years in prison for allegedly forging supervisors' signatures and a phony bill of sale in connection with cars being stored at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.
Bennette was released on $75,000 bail after entering a not-guilty plea in Brooklyn federal court yesterday.