LIRR Employee Faked Inspection That Led to Derailment, Feds Allege

Prosecutors allege Stuart Conklin faked an inspection report on a piece of equipment that was responsible for a derailment a month later

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A former LIRR employee is under indictment for allegedly falsifying an inspection report on a piece of equipment that later caused a train derailment.

Federal prosecutors allege that Stuart Conklin filed a report falsely certifying that he had inspected and passed a piece of electrical equipment called a rail bond in late April 2019. The unit was in fact broken, and authorities say surveillance footage shows he never inspected it.

A month later, a train derailed in Speonk, and the MTA ultimately determined the broken rail bond was the cause. The overnight incident didn't cause any injuries, but did significantly impair service over a holiday weekend.

Conklin resigned from his job six days after the derailment, authorities said.

“It was an unconscionable betrayal to all New Yorkers for this signal inspector to allegedly claim a critical piece of Long Island Railroad infrastructure was safe when he didn’t even bother to look at it," MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny said in a statement.

In an affidavit supporting Conklin's arrest, a special agent from the U.S. Department of Transportation said LIRR employees subsequently discovered multiple other rail bonds that Conklin signed off on as inspected, which were in fact broken and should not have passed inspection.

Agents also discovered multiple instances, they said, where Conklin was supposed to be at work but cell phone data placed him as far as 20 miles away from his assigned job site.

He surrendered to federal authorities earlier Thursday; Conklin faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

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