Nursing Home And Owner Admit To Understaffing At Westchester Facility

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that an Ossining nursing home and its former owner have pleaded guilty to charges resulting from their failure to provide an adequate level of skilled nursing care to patients. This case is one of the first to result from the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit's statewide nursing home initiative, which is targeting fraud and quality of care issues in the nursing home industry.

Briar Crest Nursing Home, Inc., which did business as Chandler Care Center, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon in Westchester County Court to the crime of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class C felony. The facility ceased operations after a July 2001 Department of Health survey cited it for placing residents in imminent jeopardy. By its plea, Chandler Care admitted that it unlawfully obtained $400,000 from the Medicaid program by representing that it had provided "adequate" care to its patients.

Samuel Klein, the facility's owner, pleaded guilty earlier this week in Ossining Village Court to the crime of Wilful Violation of the Public Health Laws. He admitted that, between June 1 and July 31, 2001, he willfully failed to employ the number of registered nurses or licensed practical nurses needed to assure that each resident received treatments, medications, and other health services in accordance with their individual care plans.

As part of their plea agreement, the two defendants agreed to pay restitution of $400,000, to the state's Medicaid program prior to sentencing. The repayment represents Chandler Care's total billings to Medicaid for June and July 2001 for services it knew were deficient.

"The message is a simple one: If you obtain taxpayer funds by telling the state you are providing a service and you are not, you will be prosecuted," said Attorney General Spitzer. "These prosecutions represent an important component of an enforcement strategy to protect nursing home residents. Nursing homes, which have cut costs to the point that proper and legal care is not provided and which endangers residents, will be held accountable."

Samuel Klein, 46, of 131 Pecksland Road in Greenwich, Connecticut, was the owner and operator of Chandler Care Center, located at 31 Overton Street in Ossining, from March 1996 to July 31, 2001, when the facility closed.

The cases were investigated and prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit's Special Projects Unit.