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Ex-LIRR dispatcher gets 21 months for disability fraud

Former Long Island Rail Road dispatcher Kevin Neville was sentenced to 21 months in prison Monday for collecting more than $200,000 in benefits on a phony disability claim.

A lawyer for Neville, 56, of Islip Terrace, asked U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in Manhattan to give him probation, but the judge cited his "greed" -- Neville worked more than 1,192 hours of overtime to boost his pension in the year before retiring -- and the need to discourage fraud.

"A sentence of incarceration is necessary to promote general deterrence and respect for the law," said the judge, who also ordered repayment of $200,000 in benefits.

Thirty-three doctors, consultants and LIRR retirees have been charged and convicted in what the government says was a massive, decadelong scheme to make phony claims to the federal Railroad Retirement Board on behalf of hundreds of ex-workers.

Of 17 sentenced to date, nine -- including everyone who agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in making cases against their colleagues -- have received no jail time. Two doctors and a consultant received 8 years. The highest sentence of any ex-worker charged only with making a false claim has been 37 months.

Neville, prosecutors said, claimed that he was so tormented by back pain that he couldn't bend or stretch, but golfed regularly and shoveled snow in retirement. He also claimed it was hard to use public transportation, but drove an all-terrain vehicle and traveled to the Caribbean after retiring.

"I have made mistakes and I have nobody but myself to blame for that," Neville told the judge.

Neville's lawyer William Wexler, who argued that his client should get credit for charitable endeavors outside of work, said after the sentencing that it was no surprise that defendants who cooperated got leniency, but that was a path Neville declined to take.

"That's the way the system works, but it wasn't something he wanted to do," Wexler said.

Neville declined to comment after his sentencing.

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