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Appeals panel refuses to reverse 3 LIRR disability fraud convictions

Dr. Peter Lesniewski, left, a defendant in the

Dr. Peter Lesniewski, left, a defendant in the LIRR disability trial, leaves federal court in Manhattan, July 18, 2013. Joseph Rutigliano, a former United Transportation Union local president, exits federal court in Manhattan, July 18, 2013. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle / Charles Eckert

A federal appeals panel on Friday rebuffed the latest bid by three men serving 8-year prison terms for acting as key figures in the Long Island Rail Road disability fraud scandal to reverse their convictions or shorten their sentences.

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said the fraud cases against union leader Joseph Rutigliano and doctors Peter Ajemian and Peter Lesniewski were not legally undercut by later independent re-validation of hundreds of disabilities that the government had said were phony.

At oral arguments on May 15, two of three judges on the panel had said they were troubled — one called it “disquieting” — that so many disabilities at issue in the case were later affirmed by the federal Railroad Retirement Board, giving hope to lawyers for the three men.

Rutigliano lawyer Joe Ryan said he would seek a rehearing by the full Second Circuit. Lesniewski lawyer Tom Durkin said “Eight years, in our opinion, is an unconscionable sentence under these circumstances that should well be disquieting to everyone.”

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