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Post date: July 8 2007

L.i. Woman Gets Jail For $1.7m Medicaid Fraud; Home Care Aide Charged With Billing For Services Never Rendered

ALBANY, NY (July 8, 2007) Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced two more actions in his ongoing pursuit of Medicaid frauds and scammers, as one black-market prescription drug ring conspirator was sentenced to jail time for money laundering, and a home care aide was arrested and arraigned on charges she billed Medicaid for services she never provided.

In the first case, Karina Mangar, 26, of 270th St. in New Hyde Park was sentenced by Nassau County Court Judge John L. Kase to 9 ½ months in county jail for Attempted Money Laundering in the Second Degree (a class D felony). She was sentenced in connection with a widespread prescription drug diversion ring, and signed a $1.7 million confession of judgment for funds she owes the state. Mangar is the wife of Lakhram "Larry" Mangar, who was sentenced March 14 to 4-to-12 years in state prison for selling diverted prescription medications on the black market as part of the scheme.

"For years these black-market operators caused millions of New York State taxpayer dollars to be squandered, and endangered the patients who unknowingly purchased these dubious medications," Attorney General Cuomo said. "Most of the drugs were for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, were extremely expensive and, for many patients, could have meant the difference between life and death. Thankfully, we were able to step in and put a stop to this criminal activity."

The convictions are the result of a multi-year investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General’s Office that included wiretaps and multiple search warrants. The Mangars, along with other conspirators including Brooklyn pharmacy owner Mohammed “Sahi” Saeed Kahn, were found to have illegally obtained millions of dollars worth of unused or stolen prescription medications, and sold them to wholesalers in New York, Utah and Texas, who, in turn, resold the drugs to retail pharmacies. Kahn, 54, of Nassau County pleaded guilty to 24 Medicaid fraud crimes and was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in state prison.

Larry Mangar placed the drug diversion money into two safes, one of which was located inside a wall in his home, and another in the floor of the basement. When Larry was arrested, Karina asked her father and grandmother to travel from Costa Rica to help her force open the safes. Karina, the mother of a one- and three-year-old was instrumental in moving the money from the Mangar’s New Hyde Park home to another house in New York County, carrying the cash in a large diaper box. The confession of judgment represents monies Mangar will owe New York State upon her release from prison. The Attorney General’s Office has also filed a civil lawsuit seeking asset forfeiture from the Mangars and several relatives, and from businesses that allegedly received proceeds from the drug ring.

In another case, Debra A. Dietrich of Alexander Avenue, Nesconset was arrested July 3, 2007 and was arraigned by Judge Paul Hensley in District Court of Suffolk County. Dietrich is charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class D felony) for fraudulently billing Medicaid $15,729 for services she never provided in the care of her grandparents under a Medicaid personal aide program that allows for a relative to be paid hourly to provide care to relatives in their home. An investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit showed that Dietrich billed Medicaid for services during times when she was not even in her grandparents’ house.

"While in-home care by relatives is a comfortable and affordable option for many Medicaid recipients, it is absolutely essential that we ensure the care is actually provided," Attorney General Cuomo said. "Home care is a growing component of Medicaid it offers many advantages, and is consistent with overall trends in the health industry and as such, it has the potential to present a new generation of abuses. My Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is already at the forefront of uncovering and prosecuting these abuses and ensuring they don’t happen in the future."

Mangar’s case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Lara A. Stingley and Glenn M. Jones of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit under supervision of Unit Chief Monica Hickey-Martin, First Assistant Attorney General Peter Bloch and Deputy Attorney General Heidi Wendel. Also contributing to the investigation were Senior Special Investigator Al Maiorano, Senior Special Auditor/Investigator Kyle Velazquez and Associate Special Auditor/Investigator Patricia Iemma.

Dietrich’s case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General James P. Clarke. The investigation was conducted by Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Special Investigator Stephen Nicastro, Principal Special Auditor/Investigator Christopher Simeti, and Senior Special Auditor/Investigator Charles Meyer.