Money Train Derailed for LIRR Doctor4, Scandalous Schemes — By Trace America on February 12, 2013 at 2:32 PM
Choo choo: The free-ride for retirement train is leaving the station; and it’s leaving behind numerous guilty pleas.
We first brought you the story of the massive amount of fraud being committed by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and its employees back in October of 2011; and apparently the story is still ongoing.
So we say congratulations to foot doc Peter Ajemian, because he is part of February’s Fraud of the Month story presented by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud for helping hundreds of Long Island Rail Road employees lie about being seriously hurt. And he only did it so they could have comfortable retirements paid for by disability insurance payouts and ill-gotten pensions.
According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, if it hadn’t been derailed, Ajemian’s money train could have reached $1 billion in stolen disability insurance money. For now, it is one of the largest such scandals in U.S. history.
The employees of America’s second-largest commuter railroad got to decide in advance when they were going to retire, which was often sometimes in their 50’s.
Ajemian falsely diagnosed more than 700 workers with crippling injuries so they could retire as “occupationally disabled.” They paid him $800-$1,200 to rubber stamp fake disabilities backed by forged medical records.
After that decision, the workers would them lie to LIRR that they couldn’t stand, sit, walk or climb steps, leading to retirement living that included golf, tennis, biking and aerobics.
Ajemian also falsely billed insurers for millions of dollars worth of needless X-rays, physical therapy, hospital visits and other claims for those perfectly healthy LIRR workers. After it was all said and done, he took in about $2.5 million in bribes and insurance money.
As part of the scam, everything was running smoothly for about nine years, after which Ajemian pleaded guilty in January of this year. At least 16 of his co-conspirators have pleaded guilty as well. One of the guilty was his office manager, Maria Rusin. She helped the LIRR retirees prepare their insurance claims.
Dozens of others have gained amnesty by voluntarily admitting that they lied.
LIRR employees received disability pensions at a rate 12 times more than any other commuter railroad. This was taxpayers’ hard-earned money, paid by a federal agency that administers benefits for railroad workers.
Among the liars are LIRR office worker Regina Walsh, who said she had serious neck, shoulder and hand pain from sitting at a desk. She also apparently got pain if she stood for more than five minutes. Yet surveillance saw her shoveling snow for more than an hour and walking with a baby stroller for 40 minutes. She pleaded guilty.
Electrician Gary Satin said he could barely walk because of chronic back pain. But he let all his sick time go by in the 18 months before retiring, during which he worked about 154 overtime hours for five months before leaving. And once he was gone, he started a new career doing landscaping, contracting and electrical work. He pled guilty as well.
Ticket agent Daniel Denis said he was disabled, but he racked up 651 hours of overtime during the year before his retirement. After that he golfed at least weekly, gardened, did home-improvement projects and worked as a bartender. Add in another guilty plea.
Train conductor Christopher Parlante made $295,000 in benefits after complaining about severe neck and back pain. He worked right through that pain apparently, putting in 1,150 hours of overtime during the two years before he retired. And once he did retire, Parlante was seen shoveling snow at his house after a large snowfall. He pleaded guilty in January as well.
Engineering Manager Gregory Noone, who said he had severe pain even when gripping simple hand tools, along with knee and shoulder pain, too. But after retiring, he was a very devoted tennis player and a golfer who played for over 140 days during a nine-month period. He pled guilty back in January.
Another LIRR retiree claimed that walking and standing caused her disabling pain, even though she was allegedly caught working out at a gym for more than two hours, climbing on an elliptical trainer and taking an aerobics class. And yet another employee went on a 400-mile bike ride after claiming disabling pain in his back, shoulders and legs.
Ajemian is set to be sentenced on May 24th, where he’ll face at least 10 years in federal prison. He also has to repay a huge sum of $233 million, which is roughly how much stolen insurance money was traced to his fake diagnoses.
This post is authored by Trace America.