LIRR Faked Disabilities Fraud Plot: Where the Alleged Scammers Were Spotted

Long Island Rail Road workers who faked disabilities to get more money would avoid prosecution and be able to keep their pensions if they admit wrongdoing under a deal with the federal government.

In announcing the arrest of 10 retirees Tuesday, federal officials also said they are offering an amnesty program for others to come forward.

Those arrested or under investigation are ineligible for the deal.

Nine of the 10 retirees appeared in federal court in New York on Tuesday; one was arrested in Florida and appeared in court in that state. All 10 pleaded not guilty. The charges included conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

The announcement comes months after arrests of 11 employees who allegedly retired from the railroad and then filed disability claims stemming from injuries sustained on the job. The New York Times, which did a series on the fraud scheme, first obtained a copy of the disability fraud complaint last year.

Here’s a list of alleged violations from the first round-up, according to the complaint:

  • A retired LIRR engineering manager said he had severe pain when gripping and using hand tools. He was spotted playing tennis several times per week, and in a nine-month period during 2008, signed in to play golf on 140 days.

    Earnings: Approximately $105,000 in combined pension and disability payments

  • A former LIRR signal operator said he had a disability that rendered him unable to “do any of the physical labor required in his job as signalman.” In 2009, he completed a 400-mile bike tour in northern New York, the complaint said.

    Earnings: $76,810 annually in combined pension and disability payments

  • A retired LIRR conductor said he had a condition that included knee pain and caused him problems walking. But he runs a party rental business and was “surveilled and photographed personally loading and unloading stacks of chairs and tables,” according to the complaint.

    Earnings: $56,959 in combined pension and disability benefits.

  • A retired LIRR electrician said indoor and outdoor chores were “difficult.” But he went on to perform landscaping, contracting and electrical work for pay.

    Earnings:  $69,559 in combined pension and disability payments.

  • A retired LIRR human resources manager said walking and standing caused her “disabling pain” and stairs are “very difficult” for her. But she was surveilled “vigorously exercising” at a gym for more than two hours – including 45 minutes in a step aerobics class.

    Earnings: $90,349 annually in combined pension and disability payments.

  • A retired director of employee services at LIRR said sitting at a desk and using a computer caused her pain and that she experienced leg pains when standing more than five minutes or when sitting for more than 15. But she was surveilled “shoveling heavy snow” for 1-1/2 hours and walking with a baby stroller for about 40 minutes.

    Earnings: $108,00 in combined pension and disability payments.

Associated Press contributed reporting

LIRR Pension Fraud Criminal Complaint