Ten people were arrested on Thursday morning, including doctors, for charges in an investigation of alleged fraud in the Long Island Rail Road pension system. Workers made false claims on the disability pension which cost the agency around $1 billion. The people charged were seven former railroad workers, two doctors that helped make false disability claims, and one former federal railroad pension agency employee who helped the workers file the paperwork on the false pension claims.
F.B.I. agents have been investigating this since 2008 when a New York Times investigation prompted several criminal investigation.
In 2009, an investigative arm of Congress found that the system approved nearly 100 percent of claims filed by retired LIRR workers. This rate is much higher than other commuter railroads.
The defendants are expected to appear in court Thursday at the United States District Court in Manhattan. They could face up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted of the crime. Along with a press conference discussing the charges in more detail. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, and Diego Rodriguez, special agent in charge of the New York FBI’s criminal division, are going to be just a few of the speakers expected at the news conference.
About $300 million was paid out from this fraud, but it could have been much higher if detectives didn’t discover it.
New York Times reported shown below about the people that were arrested and what they received after they claimed false disability. One being receives over $100,000 and claimed they couldn’t grip anything with his hands, but plays golf regularly:
“The two doctors charged in the case, and a third one who recently died, were responsible for more than three-quarters of the disability applications filed before 2008, running what amounted to “disability mills,” the people said. They prepared false medical assessments for the retirees to file with the Railroad Retirement Board, the people said.
The disability claims made by the seven people who allegedly obtained their pensions fraudulently were in stark contrast to their conduct as detailed in the charges, one of the people briefed on the case said. One of the defendants, who receives more than $100,000 in pension and disability payments each year, plays tennis several times a week and played golf more than 100 times in less than a year despite supposedly suffering severe pain when gripping objects with his hands, bending or crouching, the person said.
Another defendant, an office worker for the railroad, who also collects more than $100,000 a year in pension and disability payments and complained of significant neck, shoulder, hand and leg pain when standing for more than five minutes, was seen under surveillance shoveling heavy snow and walking with a stroller for a long period of time, the person said.
And a third person, who receives more than $75,000 in payments annually and claimed to be suffering from severe and disabling back pain, went on a 400-mile bike tour around New York State, the person said.”
- 10 Arrests in NY Rail Pension Probe (abcnews.go.com)
- Authorities Say They’ve Cracked An LIRR Pension Scheme That Cost Taxpayers Hundreds Of Millions (newyork.cbslocal.com)