Eight Charged With Stealing Taxpayer Money Through Medicaid Fraud
DA will seek full restitution from defendants who stole more than $297K from taxpayers
MINEOLA, NY – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that a sweep targeting county residents who steal undeserved Medicaid and public assistance benefits have resulted in the arrest of eight people who collectively stole more than $297,000.
The sweep was the result of joint investigations by the District Attorney’s Public Assistance Fraud Unit, the Nassau County Department of Social Services, and the Health and Human Services Medicaid Investigations Unit.
“The burden on every honest taxpayer weighs heavier when people abuse government assistance programs,” Rice said. “My office will continue to work with our partners in the state and local government to find, arrest, and convict those who steal from a healthcare system designed to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Medicaid provides free public health insurance to more than 40 million low-income individuals nationwide. It is funded jointly by federal, state, and county governments. Restitution from fraud cases, such as these, is returned to the funding agencies, with approximately 25 percent going to the state and another 25 percent going to the local county.
Charged in the most recent sweep are:
Gul Ahmed, 38, of Levittown, was arrested on May 18 and charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Welfare Fraud in the Second Degree, and three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing. Rice said that between July 2002 and October 2009, Ahmed stole more than $107,000 in underserved Medicaid benefits. Ahmed claimed that his income was between $375 and $600 per week. In reality, Ahmed deposited more than $756,000 into his personal bank account during this time period. Ahmed faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted and is due back in court on July 21. He is represented by Kerry Katsorhis, Esq.
Roopinder Ghai, 37, and Sachin Mehrotra, 34, of Hicksville, were arrested on May 16 and charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Welfare Fraud in the Second Degree, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing. Rice said that between July 2004 and May 2009, Ghai and Mehrotra stole more than $56,500 in underserved Medicaid benefits. The couple claimed a bi-weekly income of $770 and a housing payment of $750. In reality, the couple owned the home they claimed to be renting, owned Wireless of Centereach, Inc., where Mehrotra claimed to be merely an employee, and earned more than $624,000 during the fraud period. They each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted and are due back in court on June 13. They are represented by Richard Leff, Esq.
Ramin Tehrani, 39, and Diana Rubinov, 26, of Great Neck, were arrested on May 24 and charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Welfare Fraud in the Second Degree, and five counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. Rice said that between June 2006 and August 2010, Tehrani and Rubinov stole more than $53,200 in underserved Medicaid benefits. The couple claimed a monthly income ranging between $1,500 and $1,733. In reality, they own two properties in Great Neck as well as annual checking and savings deposits in excess of $60,000 during the fraud period. They each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted and are due back in court on June 8. Tehrani is represented by Matin Emouna, Esq. Rubinov is represented by Robert McDonald, Esq.
Lisa Kogut, 47, of Rosedale, Queens, was arrested on May 18 and charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree, Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, and four counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. Rice said that between May 2006 and September 2009, Kogut stole more than $20,300 in underserved Medicaid benefits. Kogut claimed that she lived in Island Park on recertification forms while living in Queens, failed to disclose that she was married, and failed to disclose her husband’s income. Kogut faces up to seven years in prison if convicted and is due back in court on July 5. She is represented by Matthew Fleischer, Esq.
“These arrests should serve as a warning that anyone who tries to cheat the taxpayers of Nassau County by committing Medicaid fraud will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” County Executive Edward P. Mangano said. “Nassau County will root out, deny, and when necessary prosecute individuals who are not entitled to benefits or who receive benefits through criminal behavior. I commend the Department of Social Services and District Attorney Rice for their collaboration in bringing these individuals to justice.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that 10 percent of healthcare spending is lost to fraud and abuse. Nassau County spends in excess of $1 billion per year to fund its portion of the Medicaid mandate and New York State’s $52.6 billion annual bill is more than any other state in the country.
Assistant District Attorneys Christine Burke and Brian Heid of the Economic Crimes Bureau are handling the cases for the District Attorney’s Office.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.