Eleven people, including two doctors and a former union president, were charged on Thursday in a “massive fraud scheme” in which hundreds of Long Island Rail Road workers made false disability pension claims that could have cost a federal pension agency about $1 billion, according to court papers.THIS IS BUT THE TIP OF THE DISABILITY, MEDICARE/MEDICAID FRAUD ICEBERG.
A total of 10 of the defendants — seven former railroad workers charged with making false pension claims, the former union president, a former federal railroad pension agency employee who helped the workers file the claims, and one of the doctors — were taken into custody in the early morning hours at their homes by F.B.I. agents and state investigators, officials said. The other doctor is expected to surrender in the coming days.
All were charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. The defendants in custody were expected to be arraigned later on Thursday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
The federal investigation followed reporting by The New York Times for a series of articles published in 2008 that revealed systematic abuses of Railroad Retirement Board pensions by Long Island Rail Road workers.
The charges involving the railroad come at a time when public workers’ unions across the country have faced heavy criticism for negotiating pension obligations that have led many government agencies to slash services and lay off teachers, police officers and other workers.
The United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, and the head of the New York F.B.I. office, Janice K. Fedarcyk, were expected to announce the charges Thursday afternoon at a news conference along with two inspectors general: Barry L. Kluger of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is the parent agency of the railroad, and Martin J. Dickman from the retirement board. The federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. were assisted in the investigation by the inspectors general at the two agencies.
The Times articles reported that virtually every career employee of the railroad was applying for and receiving disability payments, giving the Long Island Rail Road a disability rate of three to four times that of the average railroad.
The Times found that retired railroad employees who had successfully claimed disability were regularly playing golf at a state-owned course without charge — another perquisite of their disability.
WHEN MULTIPLIED ACROSS THE ENTIRE USA AND ALL THE GOVERNMENT UNIONS, IT PROBABLY AMOUNTS TO $500 BILLION OF FRAUDULENT CLAIMS AGAINST THE TAXPAYERS.