Long Island Nurse Pleads Guilty In $125,000 Home Health Care Fraud

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a licensed practical nurse has admitted to stealing more than $50,000 from taxpayers by billing Medicaid for thousands of hours of home health care services that she never provided to a severely disabled Great Neck teenager.

Joann Taylor, 46, of 24 Mahopac Road in West Hempstead, appeared yesterday in Nassau County Court before Judge Jeffrey Brown and pleaded guilty to a seven-count indictment that's been pending against her since July. Taylor was charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, one count of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and five counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.

According to prosecutors, Taylor was assigned in 1998 to provide primary nursing care to a 13-year-old Medicaid recipient who had sustained permanent and extensive brain damage as a result of a near-drowning years earlier. A few months later, the recipient's family stopped using Taylor's services and began using other nursing providers.

However, beginning in December 1998 and continuing through December 2000, Taylor fraudulently submitted numerous reimbursement claims to the Medicaid program, falsely claiming that, except for three days, she had cared for the boy every day during this period. As a result of these false billings, Taylor improperly received more than $125,000 in Medicaid funds.

Spitzer said, "Although Taylor's care of the patient ended in 1998, she brazenly continued to charge taxpayers for the next two years by falsely claiming that she was providing him with nursing services day in and day out. In fact, even after the patient and his family moved to a new home, the defendant kept billing Medicaid - even though, in all likelihood, she did not even know about the move. This case should send a clear message to other health care providers who might be tempted to steal from the Medicaid program: you will be caught and prosecuted."

The defendant was also charged with attempting to steal another $5,184 from Medicaid between December 2000 and January 2001 by billing for additional services that were allegedly provided to the recipient.

Judge Brown set sentencing for December 12th, and indicated that Taylor faces up to six months in jail and 4? years on probation.

Spitzer thanked the State Health Department's Bureau of Enforcement Activities for referring the matter to his office.

The Attorney General's Office has referred the matter to the State Education Department's Office of the Professions for a review of Taylor's nursing license.

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