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Feds: 830 linked to MD in LIRR disability fraud

Manhattan federal prosecutors revealed in a court filing this week that they have compiled a list of more than 800 "potential" unindicted co-conspirators in the Long Island Rail Road disability fraud scandal.

The number appeared in a sentencing memorandum on Dr. Peter Ajemian of Syosset, a doctor at the center of the scheme to collect on phony disability claims. Ajemian, who pleaded guilty, will be sentenced Friday. The government wants him to serve at least 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors have charged 32 retirees, doctors and others in a decadelong conspiracy to bilk the federal Railroad Retirement Board, and have long said that hundreds of LIRR retirees might be implicated. But the memorandum marked the first public appearance of the number 800.

The government said it provided the list of names of "potential co-conspirators" to defense lawyers in January as part of court-ordered discovery in preparation for a conspiracy trial of Ajemian and others. The trial was postponed after he and most of the co-defendants pleaded guilty.

A copy of the list of 830 names, obtained by Newsday, indicates that the government in January described them as "unidentified co-conspirators referred to in the indictment." But it also told the defense that its trial theory was that, because Ajemian was known for approving phony disabilities, all of his patients were co-conspirators, and the 830 were nothing more than his known LIRR patients.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on Wednesday declined to clarify the term "potential co-conspirators" or the status of the 830, and would not comment on any plans for future charges. Bharara has said the investigation is ongoing.

The list came up in arguments on sentencing because Ajemian disputed the government's claim that his fraudulent disability certifications would have cost $100 million to $200 million. He said he did not certify some of the people listed. Prosecutors confirmed the existence of the list but said it was not what they used to calculate the scope of Ajemian's role.

In addition to the 32 charged with disability fraud, more than 40 retirees signed up for a now-expired amnesty program that offered immunity in return for giving up future disability pay.

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