Long Island Nurse Pads Work Hours In Home Health Care Fraud

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a Suffolk County grand jury has indicted a self-employed licensed practical nurse for inflating the hours of home care service she provided to two severely disabled Long Island children.

Linda Tushaj-Duran, 45, of 2484 Ocean Avenue in Ronkonkoma, has been charged in a seven-count indictment with one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, five counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, and one count of Petit Larceny. If convicted, Tushaj-Duran faces up to seven years in prison.

"Although the defendant was assigned as the primary at-home nurse for these two very sick children, she appeared more interested in padding the number of hours and days that she actually worked," said Spitzer. "This investigation and prosecution by my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit drives home our message: If you are stealing from State taxpayers, we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."

According to prosecutors, Tushaj-Duran provided care to an 11-year-old Farmingville boy born with a congenital heart defect, cerebral palsy, and a seizure disorder, among other maladies. During a four-month period between June and September 2000, Tushaj-Duran fraudulently submitted reimbursement claims to the Medicaid program that overstated the extent of home health nursing services she provided the recipient. In fact, on some of the dates claimed, either Tushaj-Duran or the child and his family were on vacation, the child was receiving care at another location, or the days were for weekends for which the defendant was not assigned to work.

Tushaj-Duran was also charged with inflating the hours of care she provided to a 17-year-old Bay Shore girl suffering from cerebral palsy. In total, Tushaj-Duran received more than $4,600 in Medicaid funds to which she was not entitled.

Linda Tushaj-Duran, also known as Linda Sutton, has been a licensed practical nurse since July 1988, and a Medicaid provider since March 1999.

Tushaj-Duran was arraigned yesterday afternoon before Suffolk County Court Judge Joseph Farneti. Bail was set at $100,000 bond or $10,000 cash. She is presently incarcerated for violating the terms of her probation in a separate matter.

Spitzer noted that his office has referred the case to the State Education Department's Office of the Professions for a review of Tushaj-Duran's nursing license.

Special Assistant Attorney General Lara Goroway, of the Long Island Regional Office of Attorney General Spitzer's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, is prosecuting the case. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.

The charges against Tushaj-Duran are accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.