Report: Over Half Of LIRR Retirees In ’10 Claimed Disability

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A new report says more than half the Long Island Rail Road workers who retired last year claimed they were disabled on the job and were thereby entitled to a bigger pension.

The New York Times reports that nearly all those claims were approved. That rate is much higher than in any other U.S. railroad system.

Federal prosecutors charged 11 people on Thursday with conspiracy in a decade-long fraud that authorities say poisoned the pension system used by employees of the nation’s largest commuter railroad. Authorities say some employees paid off doctors to say they couldn’t work.

The FBI said the fraud could cost more than $1 billion and promised more arrests.

The investigation was opened after The Times reported in 2008 that almost all LIRR workers were being declared disabled upon retirement.

CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan followed up on the alleged scammers who have already been charged.

Dr. Peter Ajemian may have a “clear conscience” about pocketing $2.2 million in fees from hundreds of LIRR disability patients, according to the FBI. He was apparently living in the lap of luxury in his Laurel Hollow estate.

Ajemian’s office manager, Maria Rusin, who the feds said helped facilitate the scheme, may have had second thoughts and actually collapsed in court on Thursday.

“I’m glad they caught them. Hope they catch more of them. Anybody that’s a crook deserves to be going to jail,” Patricia Heavy, a neighbor of one of the suspects, told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Dr. Peter Lesniewski, with offices in Plainview, is accused of raking in $750,000 from the bogus scheme. He has a beautiful Rockville Centre home and neighbors say he loves to travel.

“Even your neighbors, no matter who they are, doctors have to lose their licenses when they do that,” neighbor Ronald Gallas said.

The U.S. Attorney charges the doctors ran “disability fraud mills” to “pad patients files” with false reports paid in cash for each fake “disability diagnosis.”

“I believe they were gaming the system and it is the responsibility of the Long Island Rail Road, and it has been my responsibility since 2008 to change the culture at this railroad,” LIRR President Helena Williams said.

As other government agencies slash services, layoff cops and teachers, McLogan wanted to ask the railroad retirement board if it’s changing its polices, but it had no comment.

“What happened to the ones that were really disabled. Maybe they were denied this disability because they didn’t have the right kind of crooked doctor,” said LIRR commuter Neleeda Reed.

The FBI has reiterated to anyone cheating the system “for those of you who choose not to contact us, there’s a good chance we’ll be contacting you.”

Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

Comments

One Comment

  1. VY says:

    Untill the policy of basing retirement pay based on LAST year’s earning, not ENTIRE average career earning, this system is begging people to abuse it.
    Make pensions based on last years base salary plus the AVERAGE amount of overtime worked during a person’s ENTIRE career, not base plus the last year’s overtime.
    That reform will make all these cheating scandles goes away.
    If a person did work as much overtime as was available their entire career from year one, their retirement pay will be higher.
    If this reform was made spiking a persons overtime in the last years of a 35 year career would have a minimal effect on their pension.

  2. Igor Doublebubblevich. says:

    This is the same for the California Highway patrol, over half claim back injuries, the most difficult injury to diagnose, cops dream to get rammed from behind.

  3. done says:

    Isn’t it interesting that OWS has embraced unions – one of the most corrupt organizations in history (all unions!!). Once again the union was involved as the president was a facilitator.

  4. Ronny says:

    The LIRR retirement system is a joke. But is more of a joke then that is a three year investigation netting 11 people and the FBI saying ,”If you haven’t contact us, we will contact you”. The whole investigation is a sham so they can say look what we did. Well I for one say , YOU DID NOTHING. You wasted time and money and proved you can’t catch a thief when there are thousands of them right in front of you.

  5. ALW says:

    They need to put a moratorium on all disability payments immediately and review ALL cases. No if, and or buts. This is a complete disgrace and everyone at the LIRR should be ashamed of themselves. I also know a “firefighter” on a disability pension who rides a jet ski; trains for a triatholon and shows NO signs of why he should not be working for the Fire Department. Give me a break.

  6. Phil says:

    Next stop should be NYFD, NYPD, Nassau and Suffolk PD, Know wonder the state, county and city are broken when all these entities are schooling the system and receving TAX-FREE disability pensions. Enough is enough. It about time the govenor appoint a special prosecutor to clean up the system.
    I bet all these scammers are shaking in the boots

  7. Frustrated says:

    They should publish the names and addresses of these so called disabled retirees and offer a bounty for anyone who can provide evidence of fraud. It would make life very unpleasant for these crooks knowing that they have people watching their every move.

  8. ted says:

    The next review should be fire department disability claims. There are many fraudsters coming from there also.

  9. Reuven Kerner says:

    ny is a ripoff

  10. goblin says:

    I don’t get it. Half of retirees in 2010 filed for disability, but only 11 people arrested and charged?

    Where’s the justice?

    1. About Time says:

      About time, lets see if this is for the media or are they really going to do what is right and prosecute. While they are at it, check on the cops and fireman as well. I will believe it when I see it!!!!

      1. Next Stop Jail says:

        There are more arrest coming they are just stirring the pot.Those people have to be scared out of there mind because they will lose all there benefits if convicted.All they worked for over the years just for a few extra bucks.All the unions should be on notice the real american worker is questioning where the money is going .About time we have the goverment doing something.I guess this is the end of the line.

  11. rurbanite says:

    I feel so angry at this. We should be riding the LIRR for free. IF they can pay out a BILLION dollars in this fraud, they can surely let us struggling straphangers ride for free.

  12. Seve A says:

    Next stop Attica!

  13. pete says:

    It was quite simple at the LIRR Human Resources. You just went in there and asked for a doctor who could help you to get a Disability Pension. It helped when you held a couple of 100 Dollar bills in your hand. You got First Class service, there was no waiting, and the approval was in the mail. Otherwise you had to fill out many forms, choose your own doctor, and were denied after waiting many weeks! That’s the way to run a railroad!! No wonder everybody was in on this handout at the taxpayers expense. Everybody, from Top to Bottom!! No excuses now, just pay back what you stole from us, and quietly serve your time in jail.

  14. Marina Ios says:

    who was filling the accident reports on job, when an employee gets injured on the job, a manager, supervisor, HR dept, must fill out reports, then pay the employee medical sick, based on doctors notes, etc
    i understand those doctors are complete, disgusting crooks, but what the heck is this complete lack of management skills at mta?? they have no HR department?

  15. Richard Tattersall says:

    Freeze all the assets of the doctors, attorneys, and the people that pulled this scam. NOTHING gets released till every cent. is covered. That’s in addition to locking them up. There should be records of all the tickets that re sold during that time frame, reimburse the people that weren’t on monthly’s, and either pay back the people that use monthlies, or credit them to future tickets. NOT managements choice, the riders choice. It’s cheaper in the long run then loosing the lawsuits that are going to happen. Not Just the price of the ticket, including the difference in the tax this scam cost. .

  16. 100 PERCENT 3RD GENERATION AMERICAN says:

    NOW I KNOW WHY WHEN I RETURN AN UNUSED TICKET THEY WERE CHARGING ME A $10..00 SERVICE FEE. SO TELL ME, I PURCHASED A TICKET FOR $7.50 AND I DIDN’T USE IT, SO WHEN I DO ASK FOR A REFUND FOR THIS TICKET I HAVE TO GIVE YOU ANOTHER $2.50 FOR A SERVICE I NEVER USED. WHERE CAN I START A BUSINESS LIKE THIS IN THE GREAT U.S.A. THERE WILL BE ALL KINDS OF SUCKERS JUST LINING UP AT MY TICKET WINDOW…..

    1. Richard Tattersall says:

      You should have tracked down a person that needed it, and sold it to them.

  17. david says:

    Great. Now the MTA can start reimbursing us on the MTA tax we have been paying. HAAA!!!

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