More Subpoenas Issued In LIRR Disability Benefits Scandal

The subpoena hammer continues to come down as after the office of NYS Attorney General Andrew Cuomo confirmed that 5 doctors were subpoenaed, word has come out that 4 insurance companies are being subpoenaed. Frank Eltman of the Associated Press filed this brief report:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office has confirmed it is issuing subpoenas to five doctors involved in the review process for Long Island Rail Road disability claims.

Cuomo is leading one of four separate investigations into revelations that more than 90 percent of Long Island Rail Road retirees have been granted disability payments by an obscure federal board, allowing them to collect huge payments every year.

Subpoenas also have been issued to four insurance companies that sold LIRR employees private disability policies.

Reviews also have been started by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and the inspectors general of the Railroad Retirement Board and the

Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the LIRR’s parent agency.

You might enjoy reading these related entries:

State Investigators Subpoena 5 Doctors In LIRR Disability Scandal

The news just continues to come out in regards to the huge Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Disability Benefits Scandal. The latest comes from Alfonso A. Castillo & Robert Kessler of Newsday whose report says a source closed to the investigation revealed that 5 doctors were subpoenaed due to having examined many LIRR workers:

State investigators probing potential abuses of a federal disability pension system by Long Island Rail Road employees have issued subpoenas for five doctors on Long Island and in Queens who examined high numbers of LIRR workers, a source close to the investigation said Wednesday.

The physicians “had a significant number of patients who were receiving benefits — a significant enough number to make one want to inspect closer,” the source said.

While the subpoenas have been issued, not all had been served yesterday, the source said.

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is “investigating the roles of doctors” as part of his office’s ongoing investigation into possible abuses of the railroad retirement system, spokesman Alex Detrick said yesterday.

Click here for the complete report.

More on this as it comes in.

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:

Transit Employee Impersonator Busted Yet Again!

p>Darius McCollum being taken out of the 59th St-Columbus Circle station in June.

Darius McCollum being taken out of the 59th St.-Columbus Circle station by cops. Photo courtesy of Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

If you are any sort of tri-state area transit buff or just keep up on news, you know who Darius McCollum is. For those who do not know him, he is the infamous individual who has been arrested many times for impersonating transit officials. Some of his antics have included impersonating a motorman in 1981 at the age of 15. During this encounter, he drove a downtown E filled with unknowing passengers from 34th Street-Penn Station to the World Trade Center. He was busted back in June for entering a restricted area of the 59th Street-Columbus Circle Station.

This time he was busted over the weekend on a Babylon bound LIRR train as he impersonated a federal agent. New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue has more in this report:

A train buff with a long track record – that includes taking a subway train for a joyride – has been arrested for impersonating a federal agent, police said Monday.

Darius McCollum, 43, flashed a bogus badge and a forged ID card to a Long Island Rail Road conductor after boarding a train in Penn Station on Sunday night, Metropolitan Transportation Authority police said.

Prior to Sunday, McCollum had been arrested 25 times for pretending to be a transit worker.

“I’m not surprised,” McCollum’s weary-sounding mother, Elizabeth, said of the latest arrest after being reached Monday in North Carolina.

McCollum in recent years has been living in North Carolina, but he ignored his mother’s warnings and took a bus back to the city Sunday, she said.

“He’s a lover of New York and can’t get over it,” she said.

McCollum’s first run-in with the law came in 1981, when he assumed the role – and duties – of a subway motorman.

Click here for the complete article.

Like I said back in June, jail is not the answer for Darius. While I am not condoning his actions, it is clear he has some medical issues which can’t be solved behind bars. It is a shame that he could not be considered for a position with the MTA has he clearly has shown no intention to do anything damaging. He obviously has a passion which has led to making incorrect decisions but not in the way of purposely trying to hurt someone. I don’t know what can be done for him as he seems to have very little options left. Such a shame……..

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:

More On the LIRR Disability Benefits Scandal

One of the hottest topics on this blog has been the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Disability Benefits Scandal. Unlike other blogs, I’ve tried to bring daily coverage to the issue. Unfortunately due the technical issues causing a complete server move, I have fallen behind on the story. So here are some articles to help get up to speed. Lets start with the article by Alfonso A. Castillo of Newsday which talks about how over 85% of the disability claims filed by retired LIRR employees cited the same two ailments:

More than 85 percent of the approximately 1,800 disability claims made by retired Long Island Rail Road employees during the last seven years cited the same two physical ailments – bone infections and connective tissue diseases – federal documents obtained by Newsday showed.

Bone and connective tissue disorders account for 29 percent of all disability cases filed through the Social Security Administration during the same period, statistics show.

Northport attorney Edward J. Yule, who often represents LIRR workers in injury cases, noted that “working on a railroad is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.” Railroad workers have physically demanding jobs that often strain bones and joints, and nearly all railroad workers get injured, he said.

But Thomas White, spokesman for the Association of American Railroads, an industry group representing the nation’s major freight train providers and Amtrak, said he “can’t think of anything that a railroad worker does that would lead to a disproportionate number like that.”

The high number of disabilities coming from the two categories alarmed LIRR President Helena Williams, who said the figures “appear high” and “cause concern” in a letter she wrote last month to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board.

Click here for the complete article.

The next article is from Frank Eltman for the Associated Press. His article takes a look at how LIRR President Helena Williams calls for federal legislation to execute a complete overhaul of the Railroad Retirement Board:

NEW YORK – The president of the Long Island Rail Road called for legislation Thursday to overhaul a federal board that granted lucrative disability benefits to virtually every retiring employee in recent years.

Thursday’s announcement was prompted by a New York Times report last month that uncovered a startling trend among retirees at the railroad. More than 90 percent of them were granted disability payments by the federal board, allowing them to collect huge payments every year.

As state retirees, they are entitled to perks such as free golf at a Long Island course, and the Times found “disabled” former railroad workers who spent their summer days walking 18 holes on the course.

LIRR President Helena Williams also said she is requiring all 6,800 railroad employees to undergo additional ethics training while establishing a hot line for employees and the public to report suspected fraud, waste and abuse.

Click here for the complete article.

Alfonso A. Castillo had another article highlighting more specific ways that LIRR President Helena Williams feels the system should be overhauled:

Saying she could not stand idle as Long Island Rail Road employees continue to abuse a flawed pension system that grants disability benefits to nearly anyone who applies, railroad president Helena Williams yesterday called for widespread reforms both at the federal level and in her own agency.

“Something is not right, and I think that’s why I’m here saying it cannot be business as usual at the railroad,” Williams said at a news conference at the LIRR’s Jamaica headquarters. “We have to get to the heart of the system. Why is the system allowing for what you and I would say appears to be, at the minimum, abuse [and] certainly waste?”

Williams outlined a multifaceted plan to curb apparent abuses of the federal U.S. Railroad Retirement Board occupational pension system, which has come under fire after published reports revealed that an alarmingly high number of retired LIRR employees receive disability benefits on top of their LIRR pensions.

Williams yesterday sent letters to members of Congress urging them to overhaul the railroad retirement system. She recommended more involvement and input by employers on individual disability claims, closer scrutiny of employees’ claims by independent medical experts, mandatory physical rehabilitation when applicable, and a more stringent review of disability claims filed by administrative employees whose work does not involve physical labor.

“The goal is to ensure that only those who are truly deserving of a disability pension get a disability pension,” Williams said.

Click here for the complete article.

The last article which appears in this morning’s edition of the New York Times comes from Walt Bogdanich & Nicholas Phillips & looks at how & why the LIRR has asked state investigators to broaden their investigation. The call for a broadened investigation stems from the agency sharing evidence that claims some retirees purchased private disability insurance policies knowing that the federal railroad board would declare them disabled:

The Long Island Rail Road has asked state authorities to broaden their investigation of federal disability payments collected by its retirees, saying that it is concerned that some former employees may be trying to improperly collect disability payments from private insurers as well.

Virtually all career L.I.R.R. employees — as many as 97 percent in one year — get federal disability payments from the federal Railroad Retirement Board after they retire, The New York Times reported last month.

On Tuesday the railroad gave the state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, and the inspector general of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority evidence raising the possibility that hundreds of its employees were buying private disability insurance policies knowing that the federal railroad board would declare them disabled.

In referring the matter to state investigators, L.I.R.R. officials said their suspicions were raised by two types of disability insurance purchased by railroad employees. One is a general, short-term disability policy; the other guarantees payment of auto loans, credit card debts or personal loans in the event the policyholder is unable to work.

Click here for the complete article.

This might turn out to be the biggest scandal to rock the LIRR in its entire history. If some heads do not roll for this, I would be shocked. The amount of corruption & scamming here is too much to even grasp & yet it seems like it is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned as this story has plenty of action left for those who are following along.

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:

NYC Subway Delays Continue To Rise

In a piece of news that comes as a surprise to no one, NYC Subway delays are up. It seems every couple of months I am writing an entry about the latest statistics showcasing what any average subway rider already knows. This time the startling report originates from a brief article in Monday’s New York Post. The article written by Bill Sanderson had this to say:

New Yorkers’ subway commutes have slowed significantly over the last three years, according to the latest NYC Transit data.

The city is still far from the 1970s bad old days of broken-down, graffiti-scarred trains – but the downward trend in the quality of subway service is unmistakable.

Through June, the number of delayed trains is up an average 24 percent from two years earlier, and 71 percent from three years earlier.

And the distance trains travel without breaking down was down 7 percent in July from two years earlier, and 17 percent from three years earlier.

Subway bosses blame the problems on more track work, heavy ridership, and less money for maintaining cars.

Click here for the complete article.

You know the real news will be when the latest statistics show that NYC Subway delays are down! I won’t hold my breath on that though, I would like to live a long time.

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:
Page 453 of 602« First...102030...451452453454455...460470480...Last »