The FBI said it has arrested 10 more people as part of its months-long investigation into allegations that hundreds of Long Island Rail Road employees faked disabilities so they could enjoy more lucrative pensions.
Six people were arrested Tuesday morning on Long Island, FBI spokesman J. Peter Donald said. Another person was arrested in Florida. The suspects were expected to begin appearing in court later in the day.
The round-up came five months after an initial batch of 11 arrests targeted railroad retirees who had been granted early retirement because of supposed on-the-job injuries, only to be spotted later playing golf and tennis, working out, and even riding in a 400-mile bike race. Two doctors were charged with fabricating or exaggerating medical assessments to bolster bogus claims.
Following Tuesday's arrests, officials announced the creation of a voluntary disclosure and disposition program. The U.S. Attorney's Office says it has agreed not to criminally prosecute or file a civil action against any LIRR retiree who, in accordance with the program's schedule, voluntarily discloses that he or she made false and/or misleading statements to obtain RRB disability benefits, and gives up his or her right to continue receiving RRB disability benefits.
While fewer than two dozen people have been arrested so far, authorities have said they suspect that hundreds of other workers pulled similar stunts, inflating future pension costs for the commuter rail system's retirees by an estimated $1 billion.
Agents began investigating after the New York Times wrote in 2008 about the suspiciously high rate of disability pensions being awarded to middle-aged LIRR retirees. An investigative arm of Congress later reported that the federal Railroad Retirement Board, which is supposed to review requests for disability pensions, had approved nearly all LIRR disability applications, despite evidence that something was amiss.
Between 2004 and 2008, nearly 870 LIRR workers between ages 50 and 55 were granted a disability pension.