Second Chances

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The best way to avoid punishment for breaking the rules is to follow the rules in the first place. An article in Newsday shares what happens when someone breaks the rules by committing disability fraud, gets caught and avoids punishment through cooperation. (Everyone needs a second chance at some point in life.)

The story states that a former electrician for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is the most recent defendant to receive a sentence in a long line of hundreds of retirees suspected in a huge disability fraud case spanning a decade. The 63-year-old man is the 19th person that avoided a prison sentence by cooperating with prosecutors. Twenty-eight former employees, including doctors, consultants and former workers, have already been sentenced for their part in the scheme.

According to court records, the man worked approximately 1,100 hours of overtime, which nearly doubled his salary during his last year of employment. Before retiring, he claimed he was unable to complete his job responsibilities because of a degenerative arthritic condition and a gunshot wound he sustained to his knee approximately 10 years earlier. He later admitted that he was able to work, but decided to retire following a dispute with the LIRR. (While retired, he received a $20,000 pension and $33,700 in annual disability benefits.)

In exchange for providing valuable information about a consultant who aided him in filling out his fake disability form, the man avoided a prison sentence that could have been as much as 21 months. Instead, he received a sentence of three years of probation and was also ordered to repay more than $183,000 in disability payments received from the Railroad Retirement Board. (Note that he is still allowed to continue to receive a pension from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.)

Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. In this case, it goes to prove that it’s important to be responsible for your behavior, especially went caught by authorities committing an illegal act. Let’s hope this man learned his lesson and will live an honest and ethical life moving forward.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Former Electrician Gets Probation in LIRR Disability Fraud Case,” written by John Riley and published in Newsday on May 15, 2014.

Steven DeStefano, a 63-year-old former Long Island Rail Road electrician from Manorville, became the 19th defendant to avoid prison for disability fraud when he was sentenced Thursday in a scandal that the government says permeated the LIRR.

DeStefano, who pleaded guilty in 2012 after he was caught and cooperated with prosecutors, was put on probation for three years and ordered to repay $183,107 in disability payments he received by lying to the federal Railroad Retirement Board.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.