August 15, 2013 | 644 views
Rockville Centre doctor sentenced in LIRR fraud scheme
Facing a possible sentence of more than 100 years
A Rockville Centre man and an East meadow woman, along with a man from Holtsville, were convicted yesterday in federal court for their roles in the massive LIRR disability fraud scheme.
Peter Lesniewski, 62, an orthopedist from Rockville Centre, was convicted on numerous counts of fraud for his role in the scheme and faces a maximum sentence of 165 years in prison. Marie Baran, 65, of East Meadow, worked as a disability consultant and helped LIRR clients maximize their chances of receiving disability benefits. She faces a maximum sentence of 150 years.
Also convicted was Joseph Rutigliano, of Holtsville, for his role as a disability consultant. He faces up to 115 years in prison.
“Dr. Lesniewski enabled hundreds of LIRR employees to dupe the government through medical paper trails filled with bogus diagnoses, while Baran and Rutigliano, in exchange for payments of thousands of dollars, helped lard the employees’ disability benefit applications with lies,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a release. “Lesniewski, Baran and Rutigliano served as engines of this fraud that led to a staggering 79 percent of LIRR retirees from 1998 to 2011 receiving federal disability benefits, costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars.”
According to Bharara’s office, the disability scheme exploited an overlap in benefits available to retirees from the LIRR and the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). The former LIRR contract allowed employees with at least 20 years of service to retire at age 50. However, they would receive a much smaller pension than if they retired at 60. But if the LIRR workers retired and claimed disability, they would receive a disability payment from the RRB in addition to their LIRR pension, which in many cases would equal the salary earned during their career.