An orthopedist, formerly employed at a Rockville Centre-based practice, faces up to 30 years in prison for his involvement in an alleged LIRR healthcare fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Dr. Peter Ajemian, 63, of from Oyster Bay Cove, pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in helping retired Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) workers collect disability payments they did not deserve.
Ajemian was employed at a Rockville Centre-based practice until his termination in late 2008. He most recently operated a practice in Baldwin.
The U.S. Attorney's office said that between 1998-2008, Ajemian recommended that at least 734 LIRR employees on the verge of retirement receive disability benefits. At least 94 percent of the LIRR patients Ajemian saw were declared disabled.
"Beginning in or about 2002 I began seeing large numbers of LIRR employees who sought my assistance in having them declared occupationally disabled," said Ajemian in court, according to Newsday. "In truth and in fact, these employees were not in fact disabled and could have continued working in their railroad jobs, as they had without complaint right up to the time of their retirement date."
Investigators found that of more than 400 studied cases, Ajemian received about $2.5 million in payments from patients and insurance companies. The patients collected more than $90 million in RRB disability benefit payments.
"By running the functional equivalent of a 'disability mill' and fraudulently qualifying hundreds of LIRR patients for undeserved disability benefits, Dr. Ajemian enriched himself and debased his degree," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.
Ajemian was first charged in October 2011 with 11 others after a complaint said he and two other doctors drew up fictitious disability claims worth millions of dollars.
Three LIRR retirees, Karl Brittel, Gregory Bianchini, and Brian Delgiorno, also pleaded guilty this week for participating in the scam.
Ajemian agreed to forfeit $116.5 million and pay the amount in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. He will be sentenced May 24 and faces up to 30 years in prison.