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Press Release

Former LIRR Employee Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Inspection Report

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Defendant Falsely Documented That He Inspected a Rail Bond Subsequently Linked to 2019 Derailment

Earlier today, Stuart Conklin, a former employee of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), pleaded guilty to making a false entry in a report required to be kept by the LIRR under federal laws governing rail road safety and operations.  Conklin was charged with the offense in a criminal complaint in March 2021 and subsequently indicted in April 2022.  Today’s proceeding was held before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert.  When sentenced, the defendant faces up to two years in prison.    

Breon Peace, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Christopher A. Scharf, Special Agent-in-Charge, United States Department of Transportation; and Daniel G. Cort, Inspector General for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, announced the guilty plea.

“As dramatically evidenced by the derailment, the rail bond Conklin falsely claimed to have inspected was a critical piece of rail road equipment, essential to ensuring the safety of passengers,” said United States Attorney Peace.  “While thankfully no one was seriously hurt in this accident, it is a stark reminder of the importance federal oversight plays in the safety and integrity of our transportation system.” 

“Anyone choosing to intentionally ignore Federal laws and requirements put in place to ensure the safety of the traveling public will be pursed to the fullest extent of the law,” stated DOT-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher A. Scharf. “Today’s guilty plea is the result of an unwavering commitment to safety demonstrated together with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners.”

“Falsifying inspection reports puts the safety of the public and MTA employees and property at risk.” said MTA Inspector General Daniel G. Cort.  “Individuals, like Conklin, who shirk their responsibilities and endanger others should be held accountable and I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York for their partnership in doing just that.” 

As set forth in the complaint and indictment, Conklin was employed by LIRR as a signalman and his responsibilities included performing regular inspections of rail bonds.  Rail bonds are electronic jumpers around joints in the rails of a railroad track to ensure continuity of conductivity for signal currents.  On April 26, 2019, Conklin falsely indicated in an inspection report that he had inspected a particular rail bond in Speonk, New York and that the bond had passed inspection.  Video footage from a LIRR camera showed that Conklin in fact did not inspect the bond during his shift that day. 

Approximately one month later, on May 23, 2019, a westbound LIRR train collided with the rear of an eastbound train in Speonk, New York.  The rear of the westbound train did not register in the LIRR signal system as occupying a section of side track, causing the eastbound train to be cleared to pass on the main track when there was not enough space to do so. 

A subsequent LIRR investigation determined that the rail bond that Conklin had falsely indicated he had inspected on April 26, 2019, was broken and that the broken rail bond was the cause of the signal malfunction and the derailment. 

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Integrity Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Turner Buford and Sara K. Winik are in charge of the prosecution with assistance from Special Agent Rebecca Sidhu and Paralegal Specialist Melissa Bennett. 

The Defendant:

Age: 66 
, TX

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 22-CR-171 (JS)


John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated December 1, 2023

Public Corruption