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    Posted: Jan 08 2014 at 10:16am
The city is always crying broke and saying they can't give raises or hire many people.

LIRR Fraud Scandal Fallout Means 600 Retirees To Lose Disability Benefits
MINEOLA, N.Y. -- Nearly 600 retirees of a major New York commuter railroad are losing their disability benefits in the wake of a widespread scandal that has cost hundreds of millions of dollars and seen at least one physician sent to prison, a federal official said Tuesday.

The decision to cut off the benefits was made last week at a U.S. Railroad Retirement Board meeting in Chicago, said Martin Dickman, inspector general for the board. The action follows last month's sentencing of a physician who admitted inventing "narratives" to justify claims for hundreds of corrupt Long Island Rail Road workers trying to retire on disability for more than a decade.The employees "were not in fact disabled and could have continued working in their railroad jobs," Dr. Peter Ajemian told a federal judge after pleading guilty this year. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Dickman recommended that any LIRR retiree who was treated by Ajemain lose his benefits. He said if any of the retirees are legitimately disabled "then they should reapply for benefits and the board should then perform a new review." He estimated that the retirees connected to the Ajemian case were collecting $2 million in benefits a month; he said some recipients were getting checks of $3,000 to $4,000 a month.

Ajemian was among 32 defendants arrested in the past two years amid a probe targeting the LIRR, one of the nation's largest commuter railroads, which serves Long Island and has 81 million riders a year. Two dozen have pleaded guilty and eight others are awaiting trial. The workers allegedly claimed on-the-job injuries, only to be spotted later playing golf and tennis, working out, and even riding in a 400-mile bike race.

The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board and the LIRR are separate organizations, and workers received disability payments from the former and pensions from the latter. Authorities have said they suspect that hundreds of other workers pulled similar stunts.

A LIRR spokesman said the railroad has cooperated with federal prosecutors and others from the outset of the investigation, which began in 2008. It applauded the action taken by the Retirement Board.

"The LIRR believes that federal disability benefits should be reserved for those who are truly disabled and we have moved aggressively against those retirees who have pled guilty by seeking reductions in their LIRR pension benefits," said a statement from the LIRR.

Dickman said a second doctor accused in the scheme faces trial this month. If he is convicted or pleads guilty, the inspector general said he intends to target those retirees who were treated by that physician as well.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3534620/

Edited by GG - Jan 08 2014 at 10:18am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 08 2014 at 10:26am
http://m.nydailynews.com/1.1568664
NYPD, FDNY members cashed in on bogus 9/11 woes as part of massive $400M Social Security fraud: prosecutor

They spat on the memory of the real victims of 9/11.

Dozens of former city cops and firefighters used the 2001 terror attacks as an excuse to fund carefree lifestyles on the taxpayer’s dime, authorities said Tuesday.

The former NYPD and FDNY members — who claimed to have suffered stress-related woes from the World Trade Center attacks — were among 106 people indicted for a longstanding Social Security disability scam, officials said.

A former Brooklyn cop, Glenn Lieberman, 44, became the unwitting poster boy for the sprawling ripoff ring, which includes 71 other retired city cops, eight former firefighters and five ex-correction employees.

Lieberman, accused of being part of the crooked crew that soaked taxpayers for $21.5 million, showed his contempt in an undated photo released by prosecutors with a sick grin and two extended middle fingers.

He and the former cops and firefighters were coached by ringleaders to act dysfunctional and steered to shady doctors who helped green-light disability payments of anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 a year, the 205-count indictment charges.

“I can only express my disgust at the actions of the individuals involved in this scheme,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

He said he was particularly chagrined that 72 former members of the NYPD “disgraced themselves, embarrassed their families.”

“The idea that many of them chose the events of 9/11 to claim as the bases for this disability brings further dishonor to themselves,” Bratton added.


NYPD retiree Richard Cosentino felt good enough for marlin fishing in Costa Rica.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. suggested there might be additional indictments beyond those announced Tuesday by the time they wrap up the probe. The scammers operated from January 1988 until last month, and some 1,000 people filed fraudulent claims for as much as $400 million, Vance said.

The suspects flaunted their money and carefree lifestyle on social media, apparently never dreaming they would be caught.

“The brazenness is shocking,” said Vance.

Take Lieberman, an ex-Brooklyn South Gangs officer who quit the force in 2006 after 19 years on the job and collected $175,758.40 in disability payments based on a bogus claim of having a psychiatric disorder, prosecutors charged.

But the ex-cop, who now lives in Palm Beach, Fla., doesn’t look like a tortured soul as he sits on a Jet-Ski and flips a pair of birds in the photo.

Lieberman, who is charged with second-degree grand larceny and criminal solicitation, could not be reached for comment. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

But he was not the only suspect who lived the good life thanks to the fraudulent payments, officials said.

Vincent Lamantia, 43, a retired NYPD officer, used the $150,000 in disability money he collected between May 2010 and June 2013 to “fund his lifestyle,” Assistant District Attorney Bryan Serino said.

“He bragged about what he was doing in a series of YouTube videos,” Serino added.

Workers sift through the pile of rubble at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Richard Cosentino, a 49-year-old retired NYPD officer who now lives in New Hampshire, posted a photo of himself on Facebook with a massive marlin he caught.

“It was an awesome day off the coast of Costa Rica,” he wrote on Sept. 11, 2012, while many New Yorkers were marking the anniversary of the terror attacks.

Prosecutors say Cosentino stole nearly $208,000 between May 2008 and June 2013. He appears happy and functional in his picture.

Louis (Shidoshi) Hurtado, a 60-year-old former NYPD officer, has collected a whopping $470,395.20 since June 1989.

But being diagnosed with psychiatric problems didn’t stop him from running his own mixed martial arts school outside Tampa and boasting on its website about serving as a “personal bodyguard” to stars including Sean Connery and James Caan.

Prosecutors said the four ringleaders of the scheme should have known better.

Raymond Lavallee, 83, of Massapequa, L.I., accused of being the brains of the operation, is a former FBI agent who once ran the rackets bureau at the Nassau County DA’s office.

Thomas Hale, 89, of Bellmore, L.I., who allegedly served as Lavallee’s right-hand man, is a pension consultant.


Civilian worker Joseph Morrone (center) helps dish cannolis at the San Gennaro festival.

Joseph Esposito, 64, of Valley Stream, L.I., a retired New York police officer, allegedly recruited many of the crooked cops and firefighters.

And John Minerva, 61, of Malverne, L.I., also allegedly steered people into the scam. He has been suspended from the Detectives Endowment Association.

The four alleged ringleaders are charged with first- and second-degree grand larceny and attempted second-degree grand larceny. Each faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Esposito said nothing when he turned himself in

“While these are serious allegations, we were aware that they were coming,” his lawyer, Brian Griffin, said. “We did not avoid them.”

The lawyers for the other accused ringleaders protested their clients’ innocence.

Minerva’s lawyer, Glenn Hardy, said: “My client’s involvement in this scheme was minimal at best.”

Joseph Conway, who represents Hale, said his client was a “decorated World War II veteran.”

“For the last 30 years, he’s run a legitimate consulting company,” Conway said. “He vehemently denies any wrongdoing.”


Lavallee’s lawyer, Raymond Perini, said his client is a Korean War vet and former G-man who investigated organized crime in New York and Miami.

“He’s denied each and every allegation,” Perini said.

In an 11-page bail letter addressed to Justice Daniel Fitzgerald, prosecutors said cops seeking to claim a disability would seek out Esposito or Minerva, who would then steer them to Hale and Lavallee.

But it was Esposito who “coached” the applicants on what to say to doctors and urged them to “pretend” to have “panic attacks.”


JB NICHOLAS FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said he can only express his disgust over Social Security scheme.

“You’re gonna tell ’em, ‘I don’t sleep well at night,’ ” Esposito was caught on a wiretap telling one defendant, Jacqueline Powell. “I’m up three, four times.”

Esposito and the other ringleaders got a kickback for every patient diagnosed with a stress-related illness, prosecutors charged. So did at least two doctors who were part of the scam.

None of the doctors involved has been named or indicted but they could face charges at a later date, officials said.

The DA’s office took on the probe after a Social Security official noticed a series of applications that all seem to be written with the same hand and that all had similar diagnoses.

The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau joined the probe and uncovered the retired officers allegedly participating in the ripoff.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said the union doesn’t “condone anyone filing false claims.”

With Larry McShane

sjacobs@nydailynews.com

Edited by GG - Jan 08 2014 at 10:27am
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