New Head Of Medicaid Fraud Unit Named

Attorney General Spitzer today announced the appointment of William J. Comiskey as the head of the state's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).

Comiskey, a veteran prosecutor who most recently served as Deputy Bureau Chief in charge of the upstate offices of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, replaces Jose Maldonado, who was appointed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as Chair of the city's Business Integrity Commission.

"Bill Comiskey is a prosecutor's prosecutor," Spitzer said. "He brings extraordinary skills and experience to an increasingly important position in state government."

"Under his leadership, MFCU will be a model for the rest of nation in combating new forms of Medicaid fraud," the Attorney General said.

Spitzer said one of Comiskey's key charges will be to integrate racket-busting techniques into MFCU investigations. The $25 billion Medicaid system in New York has been plagued by increasingly complex and organized schemes to defraud in recent years. The unit traditionally has relied on audits as its main tool in its fraud investigations.

Comiskey has broad prosecutorial experience. He has served since 1999 as Deputy Bureau Chief in charge of the upstate offices of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, supervising prosecutions of substantial white collar fraud and government corruption. Comiskey also has special expertise in the health field. Between 1996 and 1999, he was employed by the New York State Department of Health as Director of the Bureau of Professional Medical Conduct where he served as chief prosecutor for physician discipline cases and as counsel to the New York State Medical Board.

Prior to his work with the Department of Health, Comiskey spent ten years with New York's Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) where he rose from trial attorney to First Assistant Deputy Attorney General. While at OCTF, Comiskey handled many notable prosecutions and investigations, including supervision of the eavesdropping investigation which led to the successful prosecution of a number of organized crime figures.

He also prosecuted high ranking members of the Cali Cartel cocaine network who were convicted after trial for importing thousands of kilograms of cocaine into New York.

Comiskey has also served as a prosecutor in the Appeals and Rackets Bureaus of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and as First Assistant District Attorney in Rensselaer County. He began his career as confidential law clerk to Judge Hugh R. Jones of the New York State Court of Appeals following his graduation from Fordham University School of Law, where he was an editor of the law review.

In another key personnel move, Spitzer named Viola I. Abbitt to replace Comiskey in the number two upstate position in the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. Ms. Abbitt has been an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau for the past two and one-half years, during which time she was also appointed a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The cases she has prosecuted while here have involved securities fraud, antitrust violations and public corruption.

Prior to joining the Attorney General's Office, Ms. Abbitt served as Deputy Counsel to Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer from 1994 to 1998. She was also an Assistant District Attorney in the office of Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson between 1991 and 1994.

Spitzer praised Abbitt as an accomplished prosecutor who has made a significant contribution to the office in a relatively short time. "In addition to being a tough prosecutor, Viola Abbitt can think outside the box to craft resolutions that bring about institutional reform. She will help continue and enhance our efforts to combat increasingly sophisticated white collar crimes throughout the state."