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Former LIRR Workers Plead Guilty To Disability Scam

LIRR Train (credit: purist_andrew/Flickr)

LIRR Train (credit: purist_andrew/Flickr)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two former employees of the Long Island Rail Road pleaded guilty Tuesday to a massive disability scam.

James Reiser, 59, and Philip Pulsonetti, 54, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to wrongly claiming disability benefits upon early retirement.

Reiser, an ex-conductor from Farmingdale, faces up to 50 years in prison. He also agreed to pay back $226,000 in restitution.

Pulsonetti, of Remsenburg, N.Y., faces up to 15 years in prison and must forfeit $176,000 in illegal benefits.

Prosecutors said Reiser claimed in his application for disability that he suffered from back and neck pain that made it hard to sit, stand and perform basic activities, but he worked 1,150 actual hours of overtime in 16 months before retiring in 2006, the New York Daily News reported.

He also continued to referee at sporting events, played basketball every day, played golf, and had no trouble carrying bags of groceries upstairs to his home, the newspaper reported.

Pulsonetti retired in 2008, the Daily News reported.

The months-long probe targeting the nation’s second-largest commuter railroad came to a head in May when dozens of retirees and others were busted. So far, eight defendants have admitted fraud in the scheme.

The LIRR serves Long Island and has 81 million riders a year, behind only the Metro-North system, which serves 82 million.

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)