Three Officials At Westchester Alcohol Treatment Center Charged With Stealing $3 Million From Taxpayers Through Medicaid Program

Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado, Director of the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, today announced that the owner of a White Plains alcohol treatment center and two business associates have been charged with conspiring to steal more than $3 million from taxpayers by falsely billing the Medicaid program for alcoholism outpatient services.

Arraigned today in Westchester County Court before Judge Mary H. Smith were Roger B. Williams, a co-owner of the Treatment Center of Westchester (TCW), and Leslie Amy and John Levin, who assisted in the operation of TCW's "campus program." Each has been charged in a 16-count indictment with one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, one count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and fourteen counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. If convicted, they each face up to 25 years in prison.

"The taxpayer-funded Medicaid system was designed to assist citizens in need, not enrich the lifestyles of individuals whose job it is to provide such services," said Deputy Attorney General Maldonado, whose office is prosecuting the case. "Throughout the early 1990s, the Treatment Center of Westchester did very little Medicaid business. Then in 1995, with the advent of its campus program, TCW's billings jumped to nearly $190,000 before skyrocketing to more than $1 million in both 1997 and 1998. In fact, the vast majority of these claims were false."

TCW is located at 10 Mitchell Place in White Plains. The center is certified by the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to provide services at its White Plains location. Such certification is site-specific. Medicaid does not pay for any services that are provided without proper OASAS certification or where a provider does not comply with New York State regulations in its provision of services.

In 1995, Amy and Levin entered into a business relationship with TCW to expand the center's business by developing an offsite "campus program" at various residential facilities for teenagers in the area. Among the facilities were the Edwin Gould Academy in Chestnut Ridge; Lincoln Hall in Lincolndale; the St. Christopher School in Dobbs Ferry; and the Jenny Clarkson School in Valhalla, which also operates group homes in Pleasantville, Mt. Kisco, and Tarrytown. All of the residents of these facilities and group homes are Medicaid recipients.

Between July 1995 and June 1999, Williams, Amy, and Levin submitted or caused to be submitted tens of thousands of reimbursement claims falsely stating that TCW was providing Medicaid recipients with alcoholism outpatient services at its licensed site in White Plains. In fact, the services were provided at other locations - namely, the residential facilities and group homes - that TCW operated either without OASAS certification or for which the defendants had fraudulently obtained certification by making false representations in their applications to OASAS. As a result, TCW improperly received more than $3 million in Medicaid funds, of which Williams, Amy, and Levin shared.

Deputy Attorney General Maldonado thanked the State Health Department for referring the matter to his office. He also thanked OASAS for its assistance and cooperation during the course of the investigation.

Roger B. Williams, 50, lives at 10 Crecco Place in Mahopac, New York. He is a co-owner of the Treatment Center of Westchester. Medicaid payments to TCW totaled $35,251 in 1994, $189,100 in 1995, $514,540 in 1996, $1,141,862 in 1997, $1,149,408 in 1998 and $426,700 in 1999. In June 2000, TCW was disqualified from participating in the Medicaid program for engaging in unacceptable practices.

Leslie W. Amy, 48, lives at 171 West Main Street in Stony Point, New York.

John R. Levin, 49, lives at 1028 Country Club Drive in North Palm Beach, Florida.

At arraignment, the three defendants pleaded not guilty and were each released on $5,000 bail. The next scheduled court date is January 9, 2001.

Special Assistant Attorney General Alan Bly, of the Pearl River Regional Office of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, is prosecuting the case. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Maldonado.

The charges against the three individuals are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.