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Post date: November 3 2005

Two Long Island Nursing Home Officials Sentenced To Jail For Stealing $400,000 By Padding Payroll

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that two former nursing home supervisors of a Long Beach nursing home have been sentenced on charges of stealing more than $400,000 from the home. The mother of one of the supervisors was also sentenced in the scheme.

Each of the defendants had pleaded guilty to larceny in the third degree. On October 24, 2005, they were sentenced by Nassau County Court Judge Jeffrey Brown as follows:

Brian Lawrence, 37, of Lehigh Acres, FL, the former Director of Nursing at the Park Avenue Extended Care Center (Park Avenue) and part-owner of Magnolia Staffing, Inc., was sentenced to a 6-month jail term, five years of probation and was ordered to pay $205,000 in restitution.

Bryan Cassinera, 30, of Bethpage, the former Assistant Director of Nursing at the Park Avenue facility and part-owner of Magnolia Staffing, was sentenced to five months in jail and five years probation. Cassinera paid $200,000 in restitution and was ordered to pay an additional $5,000 in restitution.

Winifred John, 57, of Far Rockaway, a personal care aide and the mother of defendant Brian Lawrence was sentenced to a jail term of 8 consecutive weekends, which began on October 28, 2005.

The defendants were convicted and sentenced for their participation in a scheme between May 1, 2002, and May 31, 2004, to fraudulently cause the Park Avenue nursing home to pay Magnolia Staffing for nursing services that had not been provided or that had been provided by individuals not authorized to provide these services.

As part of the scheme, Lawrence and Cassinera falsified Park Avenue’s records to inflate the number of nurses from the Magnolia agency assigned to work at the nursing home and the hours that they worked. As Magnolia's owners, they submitted fraudulent invoices to Park Avenue for these nursing services even though they knew that the services had not been rendered. In addition, Lawrence and Cassinera hired Lawrence's mother, the defendant John, as a registered nurse at the Park Avenue home, even though they knew she was not a nurse and that she had only been trained as a personal care aide.

Special Assistant Attorney General Alan Buonpastore, Director of the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit's Long Island Regional Office with the assistance of Special Assistant Attorney General Veronica Bindrim-MacDevitt, prosecuted the case. Principal Special Auditor Daniel Asnis and Associate Special Auditor Investigator Mary Gail Kowtna and Senior Special Investigators Gerard Worysz and Thomas McBride assisted in the investigation.