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LIRR disability fraud amnesty deadline passes

The first deadline for Long Island Rail Road retirees who made phony disability claims to sign up for an amnesty program passed Friday, but federal prosecutors remained mum about the success of the plan.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office, which developed the amnesty plan to deal with a fraud that it believes may have involved 1,500 people receiving benefits from the federal Railroad Retirement Board, declined to comment on how many have signed up so far.

Under the program that expired Friday, retirees who admitted they lied to collect disability receive immunity from prosecution and are allowed to keep the disability money already received, but must give up future disability payments.

Retirees still have until Oct. 26 to sign up for the immunity package, but those signing up after yesterday's deadline have to give up half of the disability money they have received.

Thirty-two defendants have been charged with disability fraud in a scheme prosecutors say could have cost the government $1 billion. Only those not yet charged are eligible for amnesty.

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