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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

LIRR commuters arrive at Penn Station early Wednesday morning (Jim O'Grady)

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

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Comments [3]

Bart-From LI from Long Island

Your managements philosophy= quality is dictated by money has always been wrong.
suggestion. Dump your management.

Jun. 17 2012 09:27 AM
Michael from Yonkers

So that's it, they lie and steal from the taxpayers, and then just have to own up to their dishonestly obtained pensions? At the very least they should pay all costs associated with the investigation. Also, it only seems fair that their pensions be reduced by a significant amount to deter others from such disgusting behavior, and as further punishment to these thieves. We work too hard for our money to allow others to steal from us. And it is theft.

May. 23 2012 11:26 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

This is part of the reason our taxes are so high: FRAUD

It would cost too much money to put them in jail, but they should at least be required to pay back the money they stole AND pay all the court costs associated with their arrests, including surveillance, judges' and prosecutors' salaries, and everything else. Only that way will they understand the cost of fraud to society as a whole.

May. 23 2012 10:40 AM

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