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Brooklyn senator wants hearing by state into LIRR delays, fraud

Barry Kluger (r.), the MTA inspector general, listens as Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announces charges of disability fraud last month against LIRR retirees. State Sen. Martin Dilan has asked for public hearings on the Long Island Rail Road. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
TimesLedger Newspapers

A Brooklyn legislator has asked for public hearings on the Long Island Rail Road, which he said had received “an astounding amount of negative attention” due to “delays, worsening crime, and fraud charges involving LIRR retirees.”

State Sen. Martin Dilan (D-Brooklyn) sent the request to Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Matthew Trapasso, a spokesman for Dilan, said that as of Monday, Fuschillo had yet to reply to the Brooklyn lawmaker’s request.

Fuschillo has already denounced the retirement fraud scandal at the LIRR and, along with eight Long Island senators, called on the federal Railroad Retirement Board to improve its oversight to prevent retirement fraud.

“Recently, the Long Island Rail Road has received an astounding amount of negative attention due to numerous outages, paralyzing delays, an alarming spike in crime and fraud involving LIRR retirees,” Dilan told Fuschillo.

Among the negative publicity Dilan mentioned were several breakdowns of LIRR service, which stranded thousands of the railroad’s riders.

The Dec. 26 blizzard caught thousands of commuters in stalled LIRR trains and an Aug. 23, 2010, fire in a railroad control tower brought more chaos for the railroad. A Sept. 29 lightning strike that knocked out signals and communications halted dozens of trains, leaving thousands more commuters stranded, some for hours .

“While reliability of the LIRR has declined, so has safety. Crime has reached a five-year peak,” Dilan said.

Citing figures from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, he said robberies had doubled over the past year and felonies were up 38 percent in the January through September span from a year earlier. The lawmaker also called attention to the “shocking pension fraud scandal” at the Long Island Rail Road that has so far resulted in the recent arrest of 11 people.

“This reckless string of events has caused the LIRR to be seen in a light of mistrust and unreliability,” Dilan said. “It is incumbent upon us to ensure that the residents of New York receive adequate train service.”

He called on Fuschillo to convene public hearings to address the deteriorating service.

“Working together, we can help provide the openness and reliability they deserve,” Dilan said in his request.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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