After 10 people were arrested on Oct. 27 as part of a fraud scheme by Long Island Rail Road workers, the LIRR relied on a point of strength for its official response: its president.
Some of the indicted workers, who falsely claimed to have disabling injuries, were collecting tens of thousands of dollars in annual pensions while spending time playing golf, reports The New York Times. This is also not the first time fraud-related news has swirled around LIRR workers. The Times published a series of articles in 2008 that revealed systematic abuses of federal Railroad Retirement Board pensions by LIRR workers.
For the LIRR’s public statement, released on Oct. 27, the PR team tapped the organization's president, Helena E. Williams. The site’s press room, which features more than 10 press releases from the month of October alone, were all written from their PR staff. This time out, it went straight to the top for its statement.
"The LIRR condemns any fraudulent activity associated with federal disability pension benefits. In August 2008 when the LIRR became aware of the high rate of LIRR retiree applications, the LIRR asked the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) IG and the MTA IG to investigate,” said Williams in the statement. “We support their efforts to root out fraud. We hope that today's actions by the U.S. Attorney will send a strong message to those who seek to defraud this important federal program."
Williams’ statement didn’t just say they’re working to stop fraud, but aimed to prove it. A copy of a letter to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board Inspector General and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General from Williams, dated August 28, 2008, referring the disability pension issue, was provided as part of the release. While the organization may be mired in negative press for the foreseeable future, it is at least thinking about who can best deliver its public-facing communications.