Capital-area Substance Abuse Clinic Owner

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that the owner of a Capital-area alcohol and substance abuse clinic, accused of paying more than $38,000 in kickbacks for Medicaid patient referrals, has pleaded guilty. The clinic owner's corporation also entered a guilty plea.

Lloyd B. Sokolow, 48, of 2183 Grand Boulevard in Schenectady, pleaded guilty to the crimes of Engaging in a Prohibited Practice (Kickbacks) and Petit Larceny. The plea was entered in Albany County Court before Judge Larry J. Rosen, who set sentencing for April 12, 2000.

Sokolow, an attorney, faces up to four years in prison.

"The defendant used kickbacks to manipulate the patient referral process," said Spitzer. "My office will continue to aggressively pursue those individuals who abuse the Medicaid program and the taxpayers of this State."

As part of his plea, Sokolow admitted giving money to providers of residential housing for recovering substance abusers in return for referring residents to Sokolow's clinic, Lifestart Clinic, Inc. Sokolow has outpatient facilities in Schenectady, Clifton Park, and Saratoga Springs. The kickbacks were made from January 1995 to February 1997.

In addition to Sokolow's plea today, his corporation, Lifestart Clinic, Inc., pleaded guilty to the felony crime of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree for having billed Medicaid for non-reimbursable services rendered at the clinic sites. The corporation faces a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal gain at sentencing on April 12.

Sokolow and his company have also agreed to pay the State $200,000 in restitution.

Attorney General Spitzer thanked the State Department of Health and the Department of Mental Hygiene's Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services for their assistance with this case.

The case was handled by Special Assistant Attorney General John P. Miller, of the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jose Maldonado.