A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea By Owner Of Long Island Ambulette Company Who Stole Nearly $350k From Medicaid
Patricia Clague, Her Mother-In-Law And Ambulette Drivers, Among Others, Busted In Scheme
Schneiderman: Ripping Off New York Taxpayers And Depleting Resources For The Sick Is Unacceptable
MINEOLA - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Patricia Clague, the owner of Angel Ambulette in Nassau County, pleaded guilty to felony grand larceny. She admitted that, under her direction, the company billed and was paid nearly $350,000 by the Medicaid program for transportation services that were never provided or were provided to Medicaid recipients by untrained and improperly licensed drivers. Under the terms of her plea deal, Clague will pay the state $348,000 in restitution and serve four months in prison, beginning October 1.
"This Ambulette company owner routinely billed New York State for transportation services that were not provided and for services offered by untrained and improperly licensed drivers," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "This is unacceptable behavior and those who steal taxpayer dollars off the backs of our most vulnerable citizens will be caught and punished."
Beyond Patricia Clague, the Attorney General's office has arrested a dozen others in this case, including Clague's mother-in-law, Barbara Clague. The older Clague, who is 78, plead guilty to Petit Larceny, a misdemeanor, for her role in falsifying the company's records for her 45-year-old daughter in law to make it appear as if the services were rendered. The women, of Lindenhurst, appeared in Nassau County Court before Judge Anna Anzalone Friday.
Under the terms of her plea deal, Patricia Clague, who pleaded guilty to one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, will also serve five years' probation and be permanently excluded from participating in any government healthcare program. Barbara Clague, who worked in a clerical position at the company, must pay a $1,000 fine for her participation in the scheme to defraud Medicaid and will also be permanently excluded from participating in government healthcare programs.
According to criminal complaints filed against the women, from February 2005 through December 2009, hundreds of the company's records were falsified to reflect that certain transportation services were provided.
The Attorney General's investigation uncovered instances in which the company billed and was paid by the program for transporting patients who were in the hospital and even Medicaid recipients who had previously died. In addition, knowing that Angel's drivers were required to receive safety training as a prerequisite to obtaining for-hire driver's licenses in Nassau County, Patricia Clague arranged for several of her drivers to obtain certificates without having received the training. The investigation showed that the company billed for more than 2,500 trips that never occurred and more than 4,000 one-way trips by improperly licensed drivers. The Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit will pursue recovery of hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional funds through a civil enforcement action against Patricia Clague.
Nine other employees of Angel Ambulette have been charged in connection with their roles in the fraud. Eight of them previously pleaded guilty to Falsifying business records in the second degree. They are:
Alfonso Mintz, 44, of Rosedale, dispatcher
Lamonte Hatch, 58, of Roosevelt, dispatcher/driver
Stephen Drettler, 73, of Wantagh, driver
Glenda Green, 54, of Uniondale, driver
Elizabeth McKoy, 51, of Roosevelt, driver
John Young, 52, of Sayville, driver
Gregory Newson, 45, of Roosevelt, driver
David Williams, 39, of Long Beach, driver
Hector Alicea, 42, of Hempstead, is the ninth Angel Ambulette driver arrested.
Court papers show that Mintz, while working as a dispatcher, followed the Clagues' instructions to falsify company records to reflect that certain services had been rendered. The drivers each falsified records of the American Safety Institute, Inc to falsely reflect they had attended a defensive driving course and used their fraudulently obtained course completion certificates to get for-hire drivers licenses from Nassau TLC. This was also done under Patricia Clague's direction.
Criminal charges were also filed against Angela Sutherland, 54, Of Westbury, N.Y., and Errol McPherson, 38, of Queens Village, in this case for falsifying records of the American Safety Institute, Inc., to reflect that several of Angel's drivers had attended and successfully completed a driver's safety course offered by that company. Sutherland and McPherson each face eight counts felony Falsifying business Records in the First Degree. They faces up to 4 years in prison.
Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the New York State Health Department, the Nassau County Police Department's Third and Seventh Precincts and the Nassau County District Attorney's Office Investigators for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation and arrests.
Attorney General Special Investigator Regina Hogan and retired Senior Special Investigator Angel Rivera, as well as former Special Auditor Investigator Charles Meyer and Supervising Auditor Investigator Margaret McArdle assisted in the investigation.
Special Assistant Attorney General Lara Merchan, assigned to the Long Island Regional Office of the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Regional Director Jane Zwirn-Turkin, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul Mahoney, MFCU's Director, Monica Hickey-Martin and Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.