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Post date: July 27 2001

Long Island Nurse Admits To Padding Work Hours In Home Health Care Fraud

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a self-employed licensed practical nurse has admitted to inflating the hours of home care service she provided to two severely disabled Long Island children.

Linda Tushaj-Duran, 45, of 2484 Ocean Avenue in Ronkonkoma, appeared yesterday in Suffolk County Court before Judge Joseph Farneti and, in satisfaction of the charges pending against her since May, pleaded guilty to Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. She also agreed to make restitution of $4,840.

Sentencing was set for September 24th, at which time Judge Farneti indicated that he would likely sentence Tushaj-Duran to 5 years' probation.

"Although she was assigned as the primary at-home nurse for two very sick children, the defendant appeared more interested in padding the number of hours and days that she actually worked," said Spitzer. "This conviction sends a clear message that if you are stealing from taxpayers, my office will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."

According to prosecutors, Tushaj-Duran provided care to an 11-year-old Farmingville boy who was born with a congenital heart defect, cerebral palsy, and a seizure disorder, among other maladies. During a four-month period between June and September 2000, Tushaj-Duran fraudulently submitted reimbursement claims to the Medicaid program that overstated the hours and days of home health nursing services she provided the recipient. In fact, on some of the dates claimed, either Tushaj-Duran or the child and his family were on vacation, the child was receiving care at another location, or the days billed were for weekends for which the defendant was not assigned to work.

Tushaj-Duran was also charged with inflating the hours of care she provided to a 17-year-old Bay Shore girl suffering from cerebral palsy. In total, Tushaj-Duran received more than $4,600 in Medicaid funds to which she was not entitled.

Spitzer noted that his office has referred the case to the State Education Department's Office of the Professions for a review of Tushaj-Duran's nursing license.

Special Assistant Attorney General Lara Goroway, of the Long Island Regional Office of Attorney General Spitzer's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, prosecuted the case. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.