An orthopedist based in Rockville Centre pleaded guilty Friday to charges related to the alleged fraud scheme in which Long Island Rail Road workers falsely claimed to be disabled upon retirement, 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 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 U.S. attorney, between the late 1990s and 2008, Ajemian recommended that at least 734 retiring LIRR employees receive disability benefits and was responsible for treating 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 say as patients disabled. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Ajemian received approximately $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 said that Ajemian’s patients allegedly received more than $90 million in Railroad Retirement Board disability.
“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 pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and health care fraud, as well as one count of health care fraud and faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Of the 32 defendants, 21 have now pleaded guilty, including three LIRR retirees who also pleaded guilty this past week.
Ajemian will be sentenced by Judge Marrero on May 24 at 2 p.m. Thomas Engel, Ajemian’s attorney, said that the defendant did not have any further comment beyond what was said in his plea Friday.