Cuomo Secures Jail Time, Restitution From Long Island Man Who Defrauded New Yorkers Through Fake Ged Courses

BUFFALO, N.Y. (March 18, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has distributed $90,000 to seniors across New York state who were sold overlapping home health services policies they did not need.

The money, voluntarily provided by Americare Home Care Services, Inc., has been delivered to dozens of victimized seniors in the Buffalo, Rochester, Central New York and Southern Tier regions who bought duplicative policies and filed restitution requests with the Attorney General’s Office.

In July 2008, Attorney General Cuomo obtained a court order barring Auburn-based insurance broker Thomas Piccirillo from selling home-care policies. Piccirillo sold overlapping policies from Americare and Homeward Bound Services of North America, Inc. Americare, upon learning of the Attorney General’s findings of fraud, agreed to provide the refunds to defrauded consumers.

“This restitution should bring some justice to the victims of a salesman who preyed off the fears of the elderly to line his own pockets,” said Attorney General Cuomo.

Piccirillo, of East Genesee Street in Skaneateles, used the fear of being sent to a nursing home as a tactic to sell elderly clients overlapping and unnecessary home health services policies across the state in order to obtain significant commissions. The Attorney General’s initial investigation determined that in 2006 alone, Piccirillo earned over $117,000 in commissions from the two service companies.

Americare’s Service Contract allowed seniors who purchased the plan and needed help at home to call Americare which, in turn, would contract with a local home care provider to provide services. The consumer was required to renew the agreement each year in order to continue to receive services. However, unused hours did not roll over from one year to the next. Americare paid Piccirillo 50 percent commission on sales.

Homeward Bound Services’ one-year Assisted Living Services Agreement allowed elderly consumers to pre-pay for blocks of non-medical services provided in their home, which Homeward Bound contracted to local home care providers. Like Americare, Homeward Bound’s unused hours did not roll over from one year to the next. Homeward Bound paid Piccirillo 37.5 percent commission on sales.

In addition to selling duplicative and unnecessary policies, Piccirillo also sold new agreements to existing customers instead of simply renewing their contracts, thus raising his commissions. He also defrauded customers by adding hours of service to contracts without their consent and never providing written proposals disclosing the total hours purchased at time of sale.

Americare did not permit its agents to sell a new contract before the previous one had expired. In June 2007, Americare learned that Piccirillo was simultaneously selling its services and Homeward Bound Services agreements to consumers, leading both companies to immediately terminate him. In a separate matter in 2007, the Attorney General’s Office found that Homeward Bound Services failed to deliver on the agreements it sold and barred the company from doing business in New York state unless it posted a $1 million performance bond.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey of the Buffalo Regional Office under the supervision of the Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge Russell Ippolito.