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Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Former railroad worker charged with pension fraud

KEY LARGO -- Federal agents arrested the Upper Keys Sons and Daughters of Italy president Tuesday, May 22 as part of an ongoing Long Island Railroad disability pension scam.

Greg Bianchini, 59, was arrested by FBI agents at 6 a.m. at his home near mile marker 104.5. He was charged, along with nine others, of defrauding the railroad's pension system.

Six other former railroad workers were arrested in Long Island at the same time Bianchini was arrested here.

The arrests follow an investigation dating from 1998 in which the majority of retiring LIRR workers claimed disability and received a disability pension.

Bianchini was reached at his home last Wednesday and said he could not discuss the matter under advice from his attorney. However, he did speak briefly with the Free Press.

"Nobody did anything wrong," he said. "We followed the letter of the law. There are always two sides to every story and the truth will come out. My conscience is clear."

Bianchini was a former LIRR engineer in New York who allegedly was earning 125 percent of his salary after he retired at age 52. He has resided in Key Largo since 2003.

Besides his involvement with the Italian club, Bianchini is vice president of the Key Largo Civic Club, an officer in the Men's Club at the St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church and a youth sports coach.

He was the only one arrested in Florida as others were arrested at their homes on Long Island.

"Federal prosecutors have said the scheme could cause the Railroad Retirement Board, a federal agency that administers benefit programs for railroad workers and their families, to pay more than $1 billion in unwarranted disability payments if disbursed in full," according to Channel 4 in New York City.

"A study by the General Accounting Office in 2010 showed that LIRR workers received disability pensions at a rate 12 times higher than workers at any other railroad," Channel 4 reported.

Other studies showed that for years, more than 90 percent of LIRR workers who requested a disability received one.

Two doctors who allegedly falsely diagnosed retiring LIRR workers as disabled were among 11 arrested in October, 2011.

The investigation resulted from a 2008 New York Times article about the suspiciously high rate of disability pensions.

Bianchini previously had been deposed by the U.S. Attorney's Office. As a result he may also face perjury charges.

sgibbs@keysnews.com

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