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WNYC News

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

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.

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Transportation Nation

Amnesty for LIRR Workers Who Faked Disabilities

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

(photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

(by the Associated Press/WNYC Newsroom) 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.

In exchange for admitting false claims, and giving up certain disability rights, former workers would be able to keep their pension benefits and won't be prosecuted.

The round-up came five months after an initial batch of 11 arrests targeted railroad retirees who had been granted early retirement because of supposed on-the-job injuries. Authorities said they were later spotted later playing golf and tennis, working out, and even riding in a 400-mile bike race.

As WNYC reported last year:

The complaint filed in Manhattan court claims former LIRR workers filed for disability before retirement so they would receive extra compensation after retirement. The resulting sum, according to prosecutors, was often more than these workers made while employed.
Those charged include two orthopedists a former union official and two office managers.

Three doctors are alleged to be involved in the scheme, one has recently died, and all are said to have reaped millions in under the table hand outs from patients and insurance companies.

Eleven people were charged with conspiracy in October, including two orthopedists and a former union official.

The LIRR's president has said the Railroad Retirement Board acted as a rubber stamp without consulting the railroad. The LIRR has cooperated with authorities.

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WNYC News

Amnesty for LIRR Workers Who Faked Disabilities

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Authorities in October said that hundreds of Long Island Rail Road employees may have cheated their way to big pensions through a $1 billion fraud by paying off doctors to say they were unable to work.

Comments [8]

WNYC News

Closing Time: LIRR Begins Booze Ban This Weekend

Friday, May 18, 2012

Drown your sorrows while your can: The LIRR is banning alcohol on overnight weekend trains leaving from Penn Station beginning this weekend.

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WNYC News

LIRR Moves to Ban Alcohol on Some Overnight Trains

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Long Island Railroad is launching a pilot program banning alcohol on overnight weekend trains out of Penn Station, beginning next month.

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WNYC News

Worker Error Cited in Massive LIRR Breakdown: MTA Report

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A new report has concluded that worker error contributed to the breakdown that paralyzed the Long Island Rail Road when a lightning bolt struck a critical signal shed.

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WNYC News

Congressional Inaction Costing Transit Riders $561 a Year, Group Claims

Friday, January 06, 2012

WNYC

Congressional inaction is leading to a $561 hike in the taxes of transit riders, charges the American Public Transit Association.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: LIRR Pilots Quiet Cars, and Higher Hudson River Tolls = More People Riding Mass Transit

Monday, December 05, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The lost highways of Washington, DC. (Link)

The MTA wants transit apps, but it doesn't want to release key data. (Link)

Do higher CAFE standards create more jobs? (Link)

Andrea Bernstein, Brian Lehrer discuss transit systems and climate change. (Link)

The George Washington Bridge (photo by Kate Hinds)

Lots of New York news this week, as the legislature returns to Albany for a special session:

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to create an infrastructure fund that will finance the repair and development of highways, bridges and major construction projects--and promote innovative public-private partnerships with business and labor. (Capitol Confidential)

Lawmakers will meet to enact a compromise bill extending “taxi hail” service to the outer boroughs, among other issues... (NY Post, NY Times)

...including the MTA's payroll tax, which sources say they want to modify without financially hurting the strapped agency. (NY Daily News)

But: New York Daily News opinion: repealing the payroll tax is "a train wreck of a proposal that would cripple the subway...The idea that the MTA could provide anything remotely close to a safe and affordable service after such a financial pounding is fantasy.'"

In other news:

Higher Hudson River tolls have led to less traffic -- and more people riding public transit into New York City. (New York Times)

House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman John Mica said he's finished negotiating over some FAA funding issues until Congress resolves a dispute over a labor ruling. (Politico)

U.S. factory production is up--which means automakers are hiring. (The Takeaway)

Toyota begins selling "the world's smallest four-seater." (Detroit Free Press)

A blueprint for how Germany created a financially viable public transit system.  (Washington Post)

The Long Island Rail Road is piloting a quiet car program on one line. (Long Island Press)

The mayor of Ventura, California, is going blind -- so he's moving to Washington DC, where the transit system will enable him to lead a normal life without driving. (Los Angeles Times)

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Transportation Nation

Prosecutors: Long Island Railroad Pension Scam Could Total $1 Billion

Thursday, October 27, 2011

LIRR train (photo by Adam E. Moreira via Wikimedia Commons)

(New York, NY -- Stephen Nessen, WNYC) Eleven people are facing federal charges linked to an investigation of fraud in the Long Island Rail Road pension system in a scam prosecutors say could total $1 billion.

The LIRR is the nation's largest commuter railroad, with some 265,000 daily riders.

The complaint filed in Manhattan court claims an unusually high number of former LIRR workers filed for disability before retirement so they would receive extra compensation after retirement. The resulting sum, according to prosecutors, was often more than these workers made while employed.

Those charged include two orthopedists, a former union official and two office managers.

Three doctors are alleged to be involved in the scheme, one has recently died, and all are said to have reaped millions in under the table hand outs from patients and insurance companies.

The complaint filed noted that the doctors often prescribed unnecessary medial procedures, like x-rays and physical therapy in order to "pad the patients' medical files."

The FBI said that although only a few people are named in the complaint, the agency suspects many workers took advantage of the program by seeking "compensation beyond retirement for a disability that did not exist."

Investigator Diego Rodriguez called the pension scheme a "culture of sorts among the LIRR workers." He said the doctors were "brazen" in their complicity.

The investigation is ongoing.

The disability pensions were approved by the Railroad Retirement Board, which is not part of the LIRR.

LIRR President Helena Williams said in a statement:

“The LIRR condemns any fraudulent activity associated with federal disability pension benefits.  In August 2008 when the LIRR became aware of the high rate of LIRR retiree applications, the LIRR asked the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) IG and the MTA IG to investigate.  The LIRR has cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the MTA IG’s Office and the RRB IG’s office in their investigations of fraudulent disability pension applications.  We support their efforts to root out fraud.  This important benefit should be reserved only for those disabled members of the railroad community who truly deserve it.  Federal disability benefits are funded by railroad employer and employee payroll taxes across the United States.  We hope that today’s actions by the U.S. Attorney will send a strong message to those who seek to defraud this important federal program.”

In 2009, a Congressional investigation found that the system approved almost all claims filed by retired workers — at a rate much higher than other commuter railroads.

A 2008 investigation by the New York Times found almost railroad employees were collecting disability pensions.

 

With the Associated Press

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WNYC News

Hundreds of LIRR Workers Part of Pension Scam: FBI

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hundreds of Long Island Rail Road employees may have scammed their way to large pensions in what prosecutors claim could amount to a $1 billion scheme, authorities said Thursday.

Comments [6]

Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Christie Says NJ "Will Do Our Share" in Secaucus 7 Plan; Roadway Travel Reaches Lowest Point Since 2003

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Extending the #7 subway to NJ could cost less than the ARC tunnel. (Link)

New York conducts bus inspection crackdowns, nets dozens of violations. (Link)

Specialty license plates generate revenue -- and controversy. (Link)

Should you treat a subway platform like Yosemite? (Link)

U.S. Highway 20, Idaho (photo by J.Labrado via Flickr)

Travel on U.S. roadways through the first eight months of this year is down 1.3% from a year ago -- or 26 billion vehicle miles -- and has reached the lowest level since 2003. (USA Today)

More on extending the #7 to Secaucus: Governor Christie said New Jersey "will do our share...All of this will be able to come together.” (Bloomberg via Stateline)

BP was granted a permit for deepwater drilling in the Gulf. (Politico)

Taxis are allowed to block bike lanes in San Francisco. (Bay Citizen)

UAW members reached a split decision over Chrysler contract. (Changing Gears)

Ten people were arrested in a $1 billion Long Island Rail Road disability scheme. (New York Times)

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says "continued failure is not an option" for regional transportation efforts in Metro Detroit. (MLive.com)

New York's elevated rail-line-turned-park, the High Line, received a $20 million donation. (New York Times)

A bus operator denies discrimination charges, says women on Brooklyn's B110 don't complain about having to sit in the back. (New York Times)

NY Daily News opinion piece: making all taxis wheelchair-accessible is a worthy goal, but it can't trump other considerations -- like cost.

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Senate Dems Tweak Infrastructure Proposal; Cuomo Wants Speedy Federal Approval for New Tappan Zee Bridge

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top stores on TN:

The ARC tunnel dispute fueled rancor between NJ Governor Christie and the Obama Administration. (Link)

GM signs car share agreement. (Link)

LIRR train (photo by Adam E. Moreira via Wikimedia Commons)

One New York politician wants the Long Island Rail Road to institute a bill of rights for passengers. (WNYC)

Jobs bill update: a procedural vote will come tonight. (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are working on a Plan B: merge a corporate repatriation tax holiday to an infrastructure bank proposal. (Politico)

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo wants speedy federal approval for a new Tappan Zee bridge. (Capitol Confidential)

Maryland leaders debate applying sales tax to gas purchases to boost funds for that state's infrastructure. (AP via Washington Post)

The future of Ann Arbor's transit system could include streetcars or monorail. (AnnArbor.com)

The NYC subway map did away with Charlton Street. (New York Times)

A project aimed at untangling an Amtrak, Metra, and freight train logjam broke ground yesterday on Chicago’s South Side. (WBEZ)

Should California allow hybrids with no passengers back into the carpool lane? Research says yes. (KQED)

Outgoing NY MTA head Jay Walder toured the top of the Verrazano Bridge. (NY Post)

How to store your bike in your apartment? Turn it into a bookshelf. (Apartment Therapy)

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WNYC News

Sen. Schumer Pushes for LIRR Passenger Bill of Rights

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Long Island Rail Road is facing criticism over its handling of emergencies and disruptions this year — and that's prompted New York Senator Charles Schumer to call for a bill of rights for commuters so they're informed of changes.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: NJ Now Owes Interest on Cancelled ARC Tunnel Debt, Maine Speed Limit 75 on One Road, and Lightning Zaps LIRR

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top stories on TN:

DC's paratransit system battles financial woes, unhappy passengers. (Link)

NYC ramping up installation of accessible pedestrian crosswalk signals. (Link)

A Houston official tries to sell bike commuting in a car-centric city. (Link)

The ARC tunnel groundbreaking, during happier times -- and under another governor (photo courtesy of Tri State Transportation Campaign)

$2.6 million in interest was added to the $274 million bill New Jersey owes the federal government after killing the ARC tunnel. (AP via NJ.com)

Speaking of ARC: the enmity between New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie, and NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg stems from the tunnel's cancellation. (NY Times)

Virginia is withholding millions in transit funds until it gets seats on local transit boards. (Washington Post)

As the Port Authority's head prepares to move on, the agency reviews its project list -- and prepares to make some tough decisions. (Wall Street Journal)

On one lone highway in Maine, the speed limit is now 75. (Marketplace)

Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, wants to privatize Amtrak. (The Hill)

Three Miami police officers on bicycle patrol were hit by an SUV. (Miami Herald)

A lightning strike knocked out Long Island Rail Road service yesterday. (WNYC)

NYC subway: more platforms slated for cell service. (NY Post)

Tweet of the day, via Azi Paybarah: "price of medallion is about $650K today, which shows you 'how lucrative it is to drive a cab' said @mikebloomberg."

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WNYC News

Lightning Strike Disrupts Long Island Rail Road Service

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Service on Long Island Rail Road has been suspended system-wide after a lightning strike knocked out the signal system at Jamaica station at 4:30 this afternoon.

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Boeing Delivers New Plane, Atlanta's Transpo System Needs Billions, and LA Stadium Plan Heavy on Parking, Light on Transit

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top stories on TN:

FEMA disaster reimbursements -- on hold due to Congressional inaction -- are affecting Montana residents hit hard by flooding. (Link)

Obama administration officials continue to push for transportation spending, despite unpromising signs from lawmakers. (Link)

A Dreamliner 787 in mid-flight. (Bernard Choi / Boeing)

The train tracks under the New York's East River that support hundreds of Long Island Railroad cars daily will be replaced due to "significant water drainage issues." (WNYC)

The transportation plan for a proposed 72,000-seat football stadium in downtown Los Angeles is heavy on the parking, fuzzy on the public transit details. (Los Angeles Times)

Even if Atlanta's transportation referendum passes, its transit system will still face $2.3 billion in unfunded maintenance needs over the next decade. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Dreamliner takes flight: Boeing delivered its first new aircraft in over a decade. (Marketplace)

Urban bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians. (Los Angeles Times)

New York State is getting nearly $150 million in federal transportation funding to upgrade Amtrak's passenger service in the Albany area. (AP via Wall Street Journal)

New York's MTA is putting nine more properties on the block, including a mostly empty building in downtown Brooklyn. (Wall Street Journal)

The NYPD rolled out "Total Impact," a policing strategy designed to combat a spike in subway crime. (NY Daily News)

'Shovel-ready' jobs -- a term the president has avoided this time around - actually take a fair amount of time. (Politico)

About 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is flared off as waste, an amount that no other oil field in the rest of the country comes close to. (NY Times)

New York City Council held hearings on bills that would change procedures for installing bike lanes. (Streetsblog)

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C'mon Irene: Live-Blogging the Hurricane

Another amazing MTA photo

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another amazing MTA photo: LIRR employees install an AquaDam to help prevent water from flowing into the LIRR's tunnels to Penn Station.

Click into the post to see the photo.

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WNYC News

Major Delays Expected on LIRR

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Long Island Railroad is facing major delays that will affect evening commuters after multiple lightning strikes have knocked out the signal system.

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WNYC News

Taking a Bike on the Train to Hamptons? Not So Fast

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WNYC

Those headed to the Hamptons for the long weekend on Friday will be out of luck if they want to bring bikes on board the Long Island Rail Road.

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Transportation Nation

Unlike Systems in SF, Denver, Bikes (Mostly) Banned from NY Commuter Rails for Friday Before Memorial Day, But OK on Subways

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) On Memorial Day weekend, bikes are allowed on the subway. In fact, they're allowed on the subway 24/7, year round, though the MTA doesn't recommend it during rush hour. But on the Long Island Railroad? Not on the Friday before memorial day weekend, so that would mean, no bikes on the commuter rail to the Hamptons tomorrow.

Bikes are okay (with a permit) on a very limited number of Metro North trains to upstate counties and Connecticut, but not in both directions, and not at peak times this holiday weekend, one of the busiest driving times of the year, according to the AAA. For the complete rules, and an explanation of why the MTA would seem to be lagging behind commuter rail systems like those in the Bay Area and Denver, which actually encourage bikes on commuter trains, look after the jump.

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