Long Island Pharmacy Owner Admits To "phanton Drug" Scam

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that an Inwood pharmacy owner has admitted to stealing more than $50,000 from taxpayers by fraudulently billing the State Medicaid program for expensive AIDS medications that he never purchased or dispensed to his customers. The illegal billings took place between January 1998 and December 1999.

Appearing today in Nassau County Court before Judge Donald E. Belfi, Joseph E. Cestari and his corporation, Cestari Pharmacy, Inc., pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. As part of his plea, Cestari has made full restitution of $88,150 to the Medicaid program.

Sentencing is set for May 30, 2001.

Spitzer said, "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."

Spitzer thanked the Nassau County Department of Social Services for its assistance and cooperation in the investigation.

Cestari Pharmacy, Inc., is located at 83 Doughty Boulevard in Inwood. Cestari, 60, lives at 41 Causeway in Lawrence.

Special Assistant Attorney General Michael L. Rice, Deputy Director 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.


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