A Long Island Rail Road conductor from West Islip is facing felony charges for allegedly pocketing collected train tickets, and then giving them away to his friends to use or submit for refunds.
Robert Anderson, 61, was arrested last month and charged with four counts of offering a false instrument — a felony — as well as misdemeanor petit larceny and official misconduct counts, authorities said.
Anderson, who has worked for the LIRR since 2014, pleaded not guilty Monday in Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip and was released without bail. If convicted of the top count, Anderson faces a maximum sentence of one and one-third to four years in prison.
In an interview, Anderson's attorney, William Wexler, said he is investigating the charges and his "client maintains his innocence."
Between April 2019 and September 2020, prosecutors said, Anderson would collect tickets on board LIRR trains, but not punch them, as was required. Instead, he would provide the un-punched tickets — each valued at less than $20 — to acquaintances for use or to get refunds, according to prosecutors.
To cover his tracks, on at least eight occasions, Anderson submitted collection revenue reports to the LIRR falsely claiming that he had turned in all the tickets he collected during his shift, officials said. MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny called it "unacceptable, criminal behavior."
"As a LIRR conductor, one of your basic duties is to collect train tickets — not steal them," Pokorny said in a statement. "This defendant allegedly chose to violate the public’s trust by pocketing the tickets and treating this rider and taxpayer money like it was his own personal piggy bank."
The case is being prosecuted by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Public Integrity Bureau. On Monday, District Attorney Timothy Sini called Anderson’s actions a "a clear dereliction" of his duties.
"Instead of punching the tickets," Sini said in a statement, "he pocketed them."
Following Anderson's arrest, the LIRR suspended him without pay. Railroad president Phillip Eng said the LIRR "has no tolerance" for the alleged actions.
"These allegations do not represent the high levels of integrity and professionalism of the vast majority of the LIRR’s hard working employees," Eng said.
Anderson’s criminal case is the latest involving LIRR employees accused of betraying their duties. In February, five current or former railroad workers were indicted on charges of fraud and conspiracy for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in unearned overtime pay, and then working together to cover it up.
Then in March, former LIRR signalman Stuart Conklin was arrested on federal charges after prosecutors said he lied about having performed an inspection on a piece of track equipment that later failed and caused a May 25, 2019, train derailment in Speonk.