We’ve had multiple conversations about the Long Island Railroad and the pensions/disability scam in the comments here, so I thought it was interesting that the government is cracking down:
Eleven people, including two doctors and a former union president, were charged on Thursday in a “massive fraud scheme” in which hundreds of Long Island Rail Road workers made false disability pension claims that could have cost a federal pension agency about $1 billion, according to court papers.
A total of 10 of the defendants — seven former railroad workers charged with making false pension claims, the former union president, a former federal railroad pension agency employee who helped the workers file the claims, and one of the doctors — were taken into custody in the early morning hours at their homes by F.B.I. agents and state investigators, officials said. The other doctor is expected to surrender in the coming days.
All were charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. The defendants in custody were expected to be arraigned later on Thursday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
While I’m glad egregious abuses will be curbed, the sad fact is this will be used to tar every union member.
They should check out the California Highway Patrol. Disability claims outnumber retirements for senior officers.
That would be every member of every union. Particularly us government union workers.
Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937
Thank God the long arm of the law has finally reached out to nab those thieving people of moderate means. We must have finally run out of other criminals.
If they had been Wall St. bankers the damage could have been much worse.
It’s funny how this works: criminal behavior by someone who is a union member is ironclad evidence of the inherent evil of unionism and cause to get rid of unions entirely.
Corporate malfeasance? Just a few a bad apples. Let’s not go overboard,now.
Raven (formerly stuckinred)
The term “featherbedding” originally referred to any person who is pampered, coddled, or excessively rewarded. The term originated in the use of feathers to fill mattresses in beds, providing for more comfort. The modern use of the term in the labor relations setting began in the United States railroad industry, which used feathered mattresses in sleeping cars. Railway labor unions, confronted with changing technology which led to widespread unemployment, sought to preserve jobs by negotiating contracts which required employers to compensate workers to do little or no work or which required complex and time-consuming work rules so as to generate a full day’s work for an employee who otherwise would not remain employe
This won’t be the first or the last pension scandal.
It’s pretty freaking bad though – a billion dollars and they only arrested 11 people?
Agree that this will be fodder for the Fox news cycle about how Unions are just corrupt entities! All of them! Eleventy!
The Moar You Know
Interesting. My stepfather, a New York native, has been bitching about this for years. I thought he was full of shit. I guess he was right.
Yup. Not what was needed right now.
Obviously with this news that some union peasants almost got away with stealing a billion dollars, there will be no more need for the rest of you peasants to inquire about the couple trillion that Bank of America and Goldman Sachs did get away with stealing. Go on about your petty business.
It’s a case of Sutton’s Law– thieves will go where the money is. Also, Morgan’s Law: If it’s not nailed down, you may pick it up; and if you can pry it up, it’s not nailed down. That’s ‘Morgan’ as in ‘J.P.’
David in NY
Was it only union members?
The Spy Who Loved Me
The best part in the article was where is said that almost all “career” employees had filed for disability. It doesn’t say how many of those there are, or if they can also be expected to be arrested. This is probably just the first shoe to drop, with charges filed against others to come.
@Raven (formerly stuckinred): Believe this or not.
I have a friend who was a third-generation railroader. His daddy insisted that he was to be the fourth. So, instead of what he wanted to do, he became a union railroader as well. He repeatedly tried to be fired, smoked pot and drank on the job, but it didn’t work. What did work? He crashed a train, which did the trick. Crazy hippie.
Funny story. Might I add that I was a union member for many years.
I’m pretty sure the 1B number is wrong. They arrested 9 Union members, thats a little over 100M each. There is no way that could be true. You will notice they never directly say how much these particular defendents instead they say the ‘disability scam’ costs $1B.
More likely is the total dissability claims by LIRR workers totals 1B over their entire lifetimes.
The article tries to make an apples to apples comparison between two NY railroad unions and says LIRR has 3x the number of disability claims trying to infer all those extra claims are cases of fraud and thus comming up with $1B.
This is a very well writen piece of propoganda.
According to the Times’ articles:
Sounds like every LIRR career employee could be tarred by this scandal and justifiably so.
Lousy oversight too if it was the Times that uncovered the abuse. Nobody at the Railroad Retirement Board noticed that every career LIRR employee was receiving disability?
Yeah, lousy timing. Shit.
…were charged …conspiracy to commit health care fraud… Didn’t seem to hurt the governor of Florida. Maybe they were operating in the wrong state.
Where does it say that abuses will be curbed?
Seems to me that these people are pretty effectively tarring the union themselves.
I do not like thieves, whether they are bankers or unions. Also, I have never crossed a picket line in my life and support unions.
But again, I don’t support thieves or grifters anywhere. I am not going to make excuses for them.
@Brachiator: I’m completely with you on this. Those a$$holes deserve what they get.
The other thing from the article is that the “normal” disability rate among NYC metropolitan area RR employees is apparently something like 25-33%. I don’t know if that’s partial or full disability but that strikes me as very high too since many of those who are eligible do not perform heavy manual labor.
@Brachiator: I’d like to point out that no one angrier/should be more angry about this fraud than the hard working railroad workers that haven’t cheated because this affects the health of their pensions.
In towns throughout Illinois the big chiefs of municipal departments often got very last minute outrageous raises before they retired to boost their pensions. The people who get screwed are the rank-and-file municipal workers.
I support unions and I support getting these f*ckers. A crook is a crook.
Clearly, the number arrested is not the same as the number of people benefiting from the scheme.
Sorry, these guys were crooks the same as if they robbed a liquor store. I live near these guys and you can see the permanent smirks on their 47 year old faces as I go to work and they head off to their boats for the day.
F every last one of them. The only reason they didn’t rob on the scale of Wall Street was because they didn’t have the access.
Ah, I made the mistake of thinking the article I read was the same article linked.
I read this artcile a little after 9am and it has changed since then. Originally it left out the total number of patients the Doctors diagnoised as disabled, the fact the Doctors were collectiong millions in fees for fake medical treatments, the money quote where the 1B number came from, and other non important things.
while it will no doubt be turned into an anti-union bit of propaganda, i think this story is better understood as a problem that is endemic to the State of New York rather than unions or the US.* there is another, similar scandal in the state related to pension and benefit double-dipping by all kinds of people who have had a tangential relationship to state government. in NYS, the vast state apparatus is perhaps best understood as a trough, whether we are talking about the LIRR or Goldman Sachs (hundreds of millions in tax credits).
*i suspect the problem may be similar in CA.
Great. I’ll have to hear about this 80 trillion times at work now.
I am sure that while mistakes were made, we don’t want to engage in divisive partisan bickering.
This is a very complex matter, and it is not clear what, if any, crimes may or may not have been committed, or if even there was a law in the first place. Perhaps a blue ribbon bipartisan commission can study the problem and report back with a finding.
And really, since any reasonable person can admit that both sides do it equally, if one seeks a villain in all this, perhaps one should look in the mirror.
Its time we looked forward, not backward, and moved on with the important business of the nation.
(Friend of mine works at a major metropolitan newspaper; he showed me how to have the above phrases embedded as macros which are triggered by words like “washington” or “scandal”)
I’m waiting for the usual suspects to come on here and defend bankers from false equivalence with filthy pilfering union rats, because the wording is extremely technical. Or some other excuse.
Yeah, no, these are not complex financial products, these are flat out crooks.
Unfortunately true. People who are inclined to think poorly of unions will consider unions the culprit in this sorry affair. Funny, if a ring of crooks was perpetrating a scam by getting benefits after bogus car accidents no one would start to think that all drivers are dishonest—–because most people are drivers! People just don’t trust groups they’re not members of.
With numbers that high, at least some of those people must be legitimately disabled. I feel sorry for any innocent people whose benefits are going to be questioned and threatened over this.
Sometimes New York union folk drive you crazy, you almost want to become a Republican, but then you realize you grew up in Southern Indiana where Republicans cheered Matthew Shepherd’s death as a message from God.
Yeah there’s a lot of this in New York and often they brag about it. What’s even worse is many of those who are abusing the system- vote Republican because they claim welfare mothers and immigrants are abusing the system.
In America, hypocrisy is a virtue.