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Another guilty plea in LIRR disability fraud case

An LIRR train disappears into a tunnel westbound

An LIRR train disappears into a tunnel westbound on the way to Penn Station via an east river tunnel under the 49th Ave. underpass in Hunter's Point, Queens. (May 11, 2011) Credit: Craig Ruttle

A one-time inspector for the Long Island Rail Road pleaded guilty to disability fraud Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan in a new case that signaled the investigation of the sprawling scandal is still growing.

LIRR retiree Robert Ellensohn, 59, of North Merrick, was the 33d defendant named and the 25th to plead guilty in what prosecutors contend was a massive conspiracy to rip off the federal Railroad Retirement Board with phony disability claims.

Charges in the case, which the government says involved hundreds of retirees, were first lodged in October 2011. Although prosecutors have consistently said their investigation is ongoing, the last time a new defendant was charged was September 2012.

Ellensohn filed his disability claim in 2004. He agreed to forfeit $303,910, and will face up to 45 years in prison at his sentencing next January on two counts of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. He also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in hopes of getting leniency.

Ellensohn's disability, according to the charges, was approved by Dr. Peter Lesniewski, one of two doctors charged in the case. Lesniewski is scheduled to go on trial July 15. Dr. Peter Ajemian pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 8 years in prison in May.

The plea from Ellensohn comes just days after the Railroad Retirement Board announced that it will be moving to stop disability payments to hundreds of LIRR retirees treated by Ajemian, even those who have not been charged.

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