An orthopedist based in Rockville Centre pleaded guilty last Friday to charges related to an alleged fraud scheme in which Long Island Rail Road workers falsely claimed to be disabled when they retired, according to Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Dr. Peter Ajemian, 63, a resident of Oyster Bay Cove, admitted in Federal District Court in Manhattan to declaring LIRR employees occupationally disabled when they were not, so that they could receive disability benefits to which they were not entitled.
According to the Bharara, from the late 1990s to 2008, Ajemian recommended that at least 734 retiring LIRR employees receive disability benefits, and treated nearly half of all LIRR employees who retired and received disability benefits in one four-year period.
Ajemian declared more than 94 percent of the LIRR employees he saw as patients disabled. According to Bharara’s office, he received $800 to $1,200, often in cash, for his fraudulent assessments and narratives, as well as millions of dollars in health insurance payments for unnecessary medical treatments and fees.
A press release from the U.S. attorney’s office stated that Ajemian’s patients allegedly received more than $90 million in Railroad Retirement Board disability funds. “Dr. Ajemian used his medical license to facilitate a massive fraud at the LIRR,” Bharara said. “By running the functional equivalent of a ‘disability mill’ and fraudulently qualifying hundreds of LIRR patients for undeserved disability benefits, Dr. Ajemian enriched himself and debased his degree.”
Ajemian is one of two doctors charged in this case, along with 30 LIRR retirees. The second doctor, Peter Lesniewski, 60, of Rockville Centre, is still on trial.
Ajemian pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and health care fraud and one count of health care fraud, and faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Of the 32 defendants, 21 have pleaded guilty, including three LIRR retirees who also pleaded guilty last week.
Ajemian will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero on May 24. Thomas Engel, Ajemian’s attorney, said that his client did not have any further comment beyond what he said in his plea Friday.