State's Highest Court Denies Final Appeal Of Jamestown Pharmacist Serving 20 Year Prison Term In Largest Medicaid Fraud Case In Western New York History

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a Jamestown pharmacist, who is serving up to 20 years in prison for stealing more than $1 million from Medicaid through a phony prescription billing scheme, has lost a final State appeal of his case.

Following a three-week jury trial in Chautauqua County Court in August 1998, Anthony Rizzo, the former owner of the Union Pharmacy in Jamestown, was convicted in the largest Medicaid fraud case in Western New York history. The jury found Rizzo guilty on all counts of stealing more than $1 million by submitting 8,000 false prescription claims to the State Medicaid Program and the State Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program. In September 1998, Judge John T. Ward, who had presided at the trial, sentenced Rizzo to 6? to 20 years in State prison and ordered him to pay $1 million in restitution.

This past January, in an unanimous decision, the State Appellate Court affirmed Rizzo's conviction, stating that "the evidence of guilt is overwhelming."

"Now, the Court of Appeals, our State's highest court, has upheld the Appellate Court's decision and has affirmed what twelve citizens concluded nearly two years ago - that Rizzo selfishly ripped off State taxpayers for his own personal gain," said Spitzer. "My Office will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute those individuals who abuse the Medicaid program."

Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado, the Director of Spitzer's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), said, "Rizzo's greed in stealing from the Medicaid system is especially troubling because this is a program specifically designed to assist those in need."

Special Assistant Attorney General Michael T. Kelly, the Director of the Buffalo Regional Office of Spitzer's MFCU, handled the trial against Rizzo. Special Assistant Attorney General Arthur G. Weinstein, Chief of the MFCU's Appeals Bureau, handled the appeals. All cases are filed under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Maldonado.

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