A former Long Island Rail Road employee has been arrested for allegedly entering a false train inspection report on a rail that was broken and caused a train derailment and collision in 2019, according to federal authorities.
Stuart Conklin, 63, of Texas, surrendered to authorities on Thursday and is charged with knowingly and willfully making a false entry in a record or report required to be made or preserved. The report is required by the LIRR under United States Department of Transportation regulations.
“As alleged, Conklin’s false inspection report endangered passengers on a heavily used line of the Long Island Rail Road and potentially placed scores of riders in harm’s way,” said Seth D. DuCharme, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Today’s arrest sends a strong message that this office is committed to ensuring integrity in reports that are critical to the safe operation of the transport system.”
At the time of the incident, Conklin was a signalman with the LIRR and performed regular inspections of all rail bonds. Conklin reported that he had completed an inspection of a certain rail bond and that it passed inspection on April 26, 2019. However, LIRR video footage shows he did not inspect that rail, federal officials say.
Then, on May 25, 2019, at about 3 a.m. in Speonk, a westbound LIRR train collided with the rear of an eastbound train that was pulling into a sidetrack to allow the other train to pass. An investigation by the LIRR found that the rail bond, which Conklin allegedly falsely reported as passing inspection, was broken and caused the derailment. Conklin filed his handwritten resignation six days later.
Conklin appeared before Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes, Jr. in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday. Defense attorney Anthony LaPinta, of Long Island, represented him.
“Stuart Conklin was a hard-working and loyal LIRR employee,” LaPinta said in an email to the Press. “I am not convinced that Mr. Conklin‘s conduct rises to the level of criminality.”
Conklin was released on a $25,000 bond with conditions. If convicted, Conklin could be sentenced up to two years in prison.