New York Governor Paterson Calls On Attorney General To Investigate Long Island Rail Road Disability Payments

                               

Albany, NY (CompNewsNetwork) - Governor David A. Paterson today called on Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate allegations of fraud in the disability payments made to retirees of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The Governor's referral of the matter to the Attorney General's office will allow that office to investigate claims made today in The New York Times with the fullest force of law behind it.

A report in Sunday's New York Times said that former Long Island Rail Road employees - including white-collar managers - have been paid nearly $250 million in federal occupational disability money since 2000. The 12 highest-paid Long Island Rail Road engineers in 2006 are all now retired and receiving disability payments, the New York Times wrote.

More than 90 percent of Long Island Rail Road retirees received disability benefits from the federal Railroad Retirement Board.  A number experts say is extremely high.

Attorney General Cuomo started the probe Sunday after a host of outraged elected officials called for an investigation. Late yesterday evening, New York Governor David A. Paterson granted the attorney general's office authority to probe potential fraud in the railroad disability system, a power it does not generally have. “At a time when our state and national economies are facing unprecedented strain and families are worried about meeting the cost of basic necessities, we must ensure the most appropriate, efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” said Governor Paterson. “Although these payments were authorized by the federal government, the ramifications of this for the MTA and the taxpayers of New York are severe.”

After consulting with Attorney General Cuomo, MTA Chair Dale Hemmerdinger and MTA CEO and Executive Director Lee Sander, Governor Paterson directed that the Attorney General be granted the authority to conduct a full investigation of the reasons for and the processes by which a seemingly disproportionately high number of retired LIRR employees receive disability payments.

The authority given by the Governor is granted under section 63(3) of the Executive Law, which allows him to empower the Attorney General to investigate the alleged commission of any indictable offense or offenses in violation of the law, and to prosecute those believed to have committed the same and any crime or offense arising out of such investigation or prosecution or both, including but not limited to appearing before and presenting all such matters to a grand jury.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said: “We too were troubled by the allegations contained in the New York Times' article and appreciate the confidence the Governor has again shown in our office by referring us the matter. We obviously have drawn no conclusions so far, but we will be aggressively investigating the issue.”

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